Project: Guest House, Brentwood, California Client: David Blundell, Anthropologist Architect: Francois Perrin, Air Architecture, Los Angeles, California Engineer: CTW Engineers, Santa Monica Contractor: Dante Cacace, Venice Beach Size: 700 square feet total Completion: Summer 2007 Project Description
The Air House was built for an Anthropologist based in Asia who needed a living and working space in the backyard of his family property in Brentwood, California when teaching at nearby UCLA. It is also a place to showcase the collection he gathered during the last 20 years and host visiting Buddhist scholars. The Air House is a prototype for a habitat that will be built in his other properties in Sri-Lanka and Taiwan. The concept was to design a simple structure that could be reproduced in different areas and climates and well adapted to local construction and materials. This first project had to comply with the seismic building code for Southern California. The structure is a wooden frame, the common construction type in California, clad with a clear polycarbonate skin. The see-through plastic creates an optical illusion with the sunlight that makes the project disappear at some times like a mirage, merging the volume with the sky and reflecting the surrounding vegetation, thus creating a minimal impact on the existing house and neighborhood. Itgives a dynamic aspect to the building as when you move around the light refracts itself on its surface. It is also an economic solution to protect the structure from the rain and humidity as well as being a low maintenance material, washing itself with the occasional rain. The building is set on a redwood deck well elevated above the ground to allow floodwater and local fauna (opossums, raccoons?) to crawl underneath. Two walls are dedicated to a giant bookshelf from floor to ceiling with a work desk on the lower level, the other walls are used to hang the collection of masks and other artifacts. The loft is used as a study and night area, and the main space underneath is left empty for the practice of meditation or tea ceremony. The large deck surrounding the building extends the ground floor towards the garden giving almost twice the surface allowed by the zoning code and merging the building with its environment.
The Air House uses ?air? insulation, a void in between the wood frame and the plastic skin as a thermal protection. There is a cross ventilation from the specific position of the openings and the operable skylights on the roof catching the ocean breeze in the afternoon. The energy is provided by solar panels on the roof and wind turbines will be added to be off the grid for the next generation of projects. The Air House was built out of local material (redwood) and using a technique (wood framing) that are both specific to California.