September 13, 2016

Indoor-Outdoor Living Refined by Minarc in a Los Angeles House

Experiencing déjà vu? Fans of Santa Monica–based Minarc will recognize the firm’s imprint on this Los Angeles residence, owned by a Senegalese photographer and his wife, a commercial real-estate owner. All homes designed by principals Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir are built from the duo’s patented prefabricated steel-frame panel system. All are minimal in aesthetic and maximally efficient. And all feature an easy-breezy floor plan and blurred boundaries between indoors and out.

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But there’s also plenty to distinguish each project thanks to the particularities of site conditions and client preferences (not to mention Minarc’s ability to plumb the language of modernism). For instance, this 2,800-square-foot two-story home, which replaced an existing Spanish-style tear-down in the city’s Beverly Grove neighborhood, evinces an almost spiritual serenity—an homage, the designers say, to the 1960’s Light and Space movement.

A two-stage arrival sequence heightens anticipation while instating privacy. Beyond the monolithic concrete and cedar facade, one passes through an alfresco forecourt before entering the home’s main level—essentially one L-shape great room (with radiant-heated polished concrete flooring). Access to the outdoors is unencumbered. The dining “room” is actually a covered breezeway. Solid walls are few, one punctuated with motorized clerestories enhancing natural ventilation. Glass sliders in the kitchen and living area mean walls disappear, allowing unobstructed views to a small side courtyard and, at rear, a pool with ipe deck. “Windows and doors on this floor are full height so as not to waste the prefab panels”—which are 4 by 9 ½ feet, Thorsteinsson points out.

The kitchen dominates the living space. “Yes, they do cook,” Ingjaldsdóttir says with a laugh. A stretch of walnut cabinetry incorporates a stainless steel–fronted appliance garage to help keep things tidy. Thanks to the barlike solid-surface island, the wife can enjoy a glass of wine (from the comfort of walnut-and-leather stools) while her husband does food prep. Or vice versa.

Up the zigzagging raw-steel staircase, which floats alongside the courtyard, is a pair of maple-floored master suites flanking a covered patio. Her suite breaks with convention: The freestanding soaking tub is front and center, not 7 feet from the bed. But the height of relaxation is a 200-square-foot self-contained yoga/meditation studio, complete with sauna, that sits poolside.

Project Team: Core Construction: General Contractor. C.W. Howe Partners: Structural, Civil, and MEP Engineer. Terry Design: Landscape Design. Pico Cabinets & Contracting: Bedroom Cabinet Fabrication.

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