The Blades Residence in Santa Barbara was an occasion to activate land surface and respond to a natural site on a scale that makes it distinct from houses we had constructed in the past, which tended toward more introverted responses to their urban conditions. Our strategy made the garden space the dominant element in a composition that interweaves interior and exterior in a dynamic interplay. The initial occupying gesture was formed by the broad sweep of the elliptical walls encircling this garden space, while the house itself is a fragment slicing laterally across the site.
Two types of walls were used to create outdoor spaces. One set is orthogonal and responds to both the geometry and the community of houses in the neighborhood. The other set of elliptical walls defines and extends the space of the outdoor room. At the two extreme points of departure for this enclosed volume, separate elements anchor the house as it bridges from the road to the inner site. The street end contains an inconspicuous garage and gallery, a modest statement deferring to the character of the neighborhood. At the farther, unoccupied edge of the site is the bedroom, which straddles the boundary wall. It is both a confined and unconfined form that mediates between the interior and exterior worlds.
The curved roof shapes enhance the sense of the structure burrowing within the earth to create a protected sanctuary. A segment of the house’s form lifts away from the earth in a juxtapositioned diagonal, creating a second-story study cantilevered over the pool. Within the house, outdoor and indoor volumes interlock and interpenetrate, creating a sequence of overlapping zones rather than distinct rooms. This play is enhanced by a series of reveals and recesses that have been carved away, punctuating the space with natural light and abundant panoramas.
Architects: Morphosis Architects
Location: Santa Barbara, United States
Design Year: 1993-1997
Construction Year: 1997
Design Architects: Kim Groves, Mark McVay
Client: Richard and Vicki Blades