2021 AIA Housing Awards: Walk-Street House by ras-a studio
Category: One- and Two-Family Custom Residences
Located just two blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Hermosa Beach, this home for a dynamic young family captures the essence of coastal living in Southern California. The site is distinguished by its situation on a walk-street, a pedestrian-only path in front of the home that is typical of the South Santa Monica Bay region. While the walk-street fosters a pedestrian-friendly and walkable neighborhood and connects directly to a more significant bike and walk path running through the region’s beach communities, it required the team to provide innovative design interventions to meet the client’s needs.
“Very nice climate-specific home with beautiful details and attention to context,”- Jury comment
To suit their active lifestyles, the clients sought a rebuild of their existing 1950s bungalow and requested an open concept of the ground level that leads to a natural grade and outdoor areas. The team was challenged to accommodate that request while adhering to Hermosa Beach’s zoning mandate that requires a two-car garage, which would have split the small footprint’s living spaces between multiple levels. The team found a solution in a mechanical parking lift, the first of its kind in the neighborhood, that can stack two cars in the footprint of just one and clearing the way for all living spaces on the ground floor.
The home features an on-grade ipe deck that functions as both a front porch and outdoor rec room for the family to relax or socialize with neighbors. The clever use of white concrete masonry blocks, flipped onto their sides to expose their cores, forms an entry wall that screens the interior rooms from the front porch. An oversized 27-foot-long pocket door provides access to a patio that runs the length of the lot from the living, dining, and kitchen areas, allowing the modestly sized home to feel much more significant than its actual square footage.
“Very nice climate-specific home with beautiful details and attention to context,” noted the jury. “The materials capture and reflect sunlight and breezes, flooding the interiors with a connection to this beachside community. The erosion of the walls between interior and exterior reinforce the openness in the floor plan.”
“The materials capture and reflect sunlight and breezes, flooding the interiors with a connection to this beachside community.”- Jury comment
Western red cedar, milled in various profiles to create a sense of contrast and texture, adorns the exterior. Inside, the floors are a mixture of polished concrete on the ground level and white oak on the second floor. Additional cedar is found in the ceiling and accent walls. The second floor also includes a walk-street-facing balcony and access to a roof terrace, continuing access to the outdoors near the home’s bedrooms and study.
Given the home’s location, it takes full advantage of the climate and steady ocean breezes. An abundance of operable doors and windows allow it to eschew air conditioning. When warmth is needed, it is provided by an in-floor radiant heating system supplemented by a solar water collector on the south roof.
Engineer- Structural: McCullum Engineering
Engineer-Civil: John Riahi
General Contractor: ras-a BUILD llc
Landscape Designer: Jones Landscapes
Ceara O’Leary, AIA (Chair), Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Detroit, MI
Allison Anderson, FAIA, unabridged Architecture, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Kelly Beamon, METROPOLIS, New York, NY
Alex Salazar, AIA, Salazar Architect, Portland, Oregon
Roberta Washington, FAIA, Roberta Washington Architects, New York, NY