Montalba Architects prioritises views at hillside home in Santa Monica

Canyon Terrace House

Binational studio Montalba Architects used ample glazing and a clever siting strategy to provide the best vistas at Canyon Terrace House in southern California.

Designed for a family of four, the multi-storey home sits on a sloped site in Santa Monica.

Slender swimming pool next to terrace of house by Montalba Architects in California
A slender pool features outside

Providing a connection to the outdoors – including views of a nearby canyon – was a guiding concern for Montalba Architects. The main intent was “to create a dialogue between indoor and outdoor spaces”, the studio said.

In turn, the team conceived an L-shaped, rectilinear dwelling that opens up toward the road – an orientation that captures the best views of the canyon, which lies to the west.

Bedroom within southern Californian home by Montalba Architects
Montalba Architects designed the house in southern California

Along the main street-facing elevation, the team placed a patio and slender pool. Trees and a fence block views from passers-by.

The front door is found on the east, tucked back from the road.

Limestone boxy fireplace within living space of Californian house
The central fireplace is made of limestone

Exterior walls consist of light-toned stucco and vast stretches of glass. Several areas are lined with patios and balconies shaded by anodized-aluminium louvres.

“Nature and natural light are the piece de resistance,” the studio said.

Large glass sliding doors leading to garden at Canyon Terrace House
Montalba Architects incorporated large stretches of glass into the design

“The home coexists with sweeping canyon views, allowing full sun exposure to radiate through two intersecting volumes that orient each of the living areas toward landscapes beyond the pool terrace,” it continued.

The house encompasses 5,400 square feet (502 square metres).

Downstairs office in Californian house by Montalba Architects
An office features at the entry-level

The entry-level holds the public spaces, along with an office. Full-height, glazed pocket doors open up the interior to the patio and pool, enabling a smooth transition between gathering areas.

The upper level contains the primary bedroom suite and two additional bedrooms.

On the lowest level, one finds a game room, media room, gym, laundry facilities and storage space, along with a two-car garage.

Oak flooring, walnut millwork and quartz kitchen countertops are among the interior finishes. Limestone features in several areas, including the entryway, pool and central fireplace.

Rectilinear louvres on Canyon Terrace House by Montalba Architects in California
Louvres shade the house

Montalba Architects was founded in 2004 by Swiss-American architect David Montalba and has offices in Santa Monica and Lausanne, Switzerland.

Additional projects by the studio include a clothing boutique owned by celebrity twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and the bright-and-airy headquarters for meditation company Headspace.

The photography is by Kevin Scott.

Project credits:

Architect: Montalba Architects
Builder: Sarlan Builders
Structural engineer: John Labib & Associates
Geotechnical engineering: Grover Hollingsworth & Associates, Inc
Others: Roofing & Waterproofing Forensics, Inc; Oculus Light Studio; Newton Energy;
Bent Grass Landscape Design

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