Ultimate Home Tour: The Facade

Like the shape of a car or the cut of a suit, the architecture of a home can be an extension of its owner. Commissioned by a husband and wife who work in the fields of science and business, respectively, this Southern California home by architectural designer Wallace Cunningham is intended as a structural portrait of his clients. “Architecture should be biographical,” says Cunningham, who likens the rhythm and shadows of the house to the structure of DNA. “These clients are well-educated and extremely considerate people. They’re always beautifully dressed, but constantly warm, never stiff. I wanted the house to match them.”
 
The clients, above all, wanted the inside of their home to provide the sensation of being outdoors. To that end, Cunningham included a central interior courtyard and kept the number of exterior walls to a minimum so that the house is bathed in natural light. Although the area’s climate is decidedly mild, Cunningham recognized the need for shade in the summer and protection from the elements in the winter. He therefore created a series of louvers that range in height from 11 feet to 18 feet and extend from the building like appendages, softening the light and framing the view.

“I took my cues from the owners—their wishes, their mannerisms. For instance, she wears a lot of warm golds and neutral shades. When she walks down the hallway to answer the door, you immediately know that she lives here,” says Cunningham, who covered the exterior with a neutral stucco and used bronze trim around the glass. For the interior floors, he employed gold marble from North Africa.

The 10,000-square-foot house rests on a three-acre lot of land, and to edit this space and provide the homeowners with a sense of security, Cunningham placed reflecting pools immediately around the structure, which extends the house’s juxtaposition of rectangular and linear shapes. Resembling a lantern in the evening, the home presents a harmonious balance of light and shadows that reflects the natural surroundings as well as the personalities of the owners.

Wallace E. Cunningham Inc., 619.293.7640, www.wallacecunningham.com

Photo by Christian Martin
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