The exuberant bohemian spirit of Venice, California, is expressed within urban residential constraints in the 700 Palms Residence. The design maximizes volume, light, and privacy on a narrow lot (43 feet x 132 feet), with sensitivity to the scale of its eclectic neighborhood of beach bungalows a half mile from the Pacific Ocean. Raw, honest materials fit in with the grittiness of the Venice environment; the maintenance-free exterior of Corten steel, Trex, copper, and stucco weathers naturally, while interior surfaces are left unpainted.
The house dissolves the barriers between indoors and out, creating flexible spaces that take advantage of the benign climate. Built on an urban infill lot, the compound’s orientation toward its lively neighborhood is friendly while garden courtyards afford privacy.
Flexibility and transformation have been fully realized throughout the house. The wood-and-steel frame structure is outlined by a steel exoskeleton, from which electronically controlled light scrims roll down horizontally to shield the front façade from the western sun. The juxtaposition of confined and monumental rooms animates the design; space is compressed at the low front entrance and then explodes into the main volume.
The 16-foot-high living–dining area opens up with sliding and pivoting glass doors on three sides; when opened entirely to the elements, the structure is an airy pavilion with temperate ocean breezes making air conditioning unnecessary. In winter, the iron oxide-infused concrete floors are radiantly heated.