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STRADELLA - SAOTA's first project in Los Angeles
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The architecture firm SAOTA have recently completed its first project in Los Angeles, California, a remodel of an existing 1970’s house on a beautiful promontory in Bel Air.
SAOTA has thus decided to strip the existing house back to its timber skeleton, maximizing the square footage and, by reinforcing or extending where necessary, create generous openings to maximize indoor/outdoor living.

The arrival facade is reimagined as a sculptural composition: a massive buttress ties the house into the hillside; blank, stone-faced walls, incised with vertical screens hover over glazing, inviting the eye in and through. From the entrance lobby, an asymmetrical passage carved through the main body of the house intentionally delays the reveal of the Downtown skyline, framed by the high ceilings of the great room. There is a deliberate transition as the weighty forms of the entrance, anchored into the hillside, give way to a lighter structure hanging vertiginously over it, aligning to the city grid and framing the views.

Where possible, the walls were replaced by full height glazing with sliding windows pocketing or stacking to create generous openings. Key bedrooms and bathrooms were re-designed to spill out onto external terraces suspended over the sparkling night skyline.

The lush wooded setting, so apparent in the approach to the house, seems to sweep through it to the front terrace which was converted with a new pool and linear planters to animate views from within the house. While a generous new linear canopy amplifies the width of the site, creating natural extensions of internal living spaces, improving the difference between the various functions of the house, and providing comfortable spaces for outdoor dining and lounging. This iconic 40 m long canopy extends over the east terrace as it draws a deliberate frame around the quintessential blue sky and palm trees.

The overall palette balances warm and natural tones against the bold masses and crisp linear forms which characterize the architecture. An elegant canvas of French Limestone and white plaster walls are enlivened inside and outside by bronze-colored anodized aluminum screens, and light grey window frames. Internally, grey-washed ash millwork and doors complement both limestone tiles used throughout the living spaces and the oak parts in the bedrooms.

A carefully designed lighting accentuates the architecture and responds directly to the layout of the furniture, ensuring that a sense of intimacy is established throughout the open spaces. Concealed textures and discreet layouts create a comfortable night-time environment; the sparkling LA Skyline remains the star attraction.

The landscape were designed to enhance the already luxuriant setting. Existing twin palms were retained at the pool terrace and feature in views out of the solarium bar and master bedroom suite, while low level planting and lawn to the terraces ensure functional outdoor spaces and uncluttered views of the horizon. To the rear of the site additional planting enhanced the tree-lined drive whilst a characterful mature tree was retained in the forecourt providing a real sense of place and a backdrop for the study and entrance lobby.

Going well beyond the remit of a traditional remodel, SAOTA has utterly transformed the existing house into a home that functions at the highest level and establishes a fresh contemporary aesthetic in the tradition of Californian Modernism.

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