Massey Residence

Massey Residence in Los Angeles, California by Neil Denari, 1994

Project and text by Neil Denari:

This house is for a young graphic designer in Los Angeles. The house is located on a typical sized LA site: 50ft x150 ft, proportionally a triple square. It is the client's wish to explore the basic conditions of the North American Suburban Subdivision through a typical flat site and a typical program of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. However, the house itself, though accommodating these ordinary factors, should be extraordinary.

Like many smaller multi-unit apartment buildings in Los Angeles, this house has one level below ground and two above, thus disguising its size. Essentially, the house sits in an excavation with the driveway sloping down to -2.6 meters. The experience and concept of the house is about the SECTION CUT. The front and rear elevations show the roof skin and the basic extruded form of the overall volume. Inside, the circulation space revolves around a stair which connects 7 different levels, each one shifted in height to create half levels and splintered views of adjacent spaces.

So the living experience exposes the tectonic and constructional aspects of the house and allows the inhabitant to be in the space being formed as well as to see the shearing effect caused by the stepped floor plates. Perhaps this is like looking at a sectional view (drawing or image) and a perspective view of a building: the section is external and analytical, whereas the perspective is internal and experiential. Computer simulation drawings reveal the quality of materials and light which would actually occur in the space.