Photo © Benny Chan/Fotoworks

Vortex House


Malibu, CA
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Site Size: 18,530 square feet

Project Size: 1276 square feet

Program: Two retirees approached architect Heather Roberge, principal of Los Angeles-based firm Murmur, to design their dream house—they wanted a quirky dwelling that connected to the surrounding landscape.

Location: The site in Malibu, California sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by canyons. Special environmental restrictions limited the house’s height, volume, and square footage.

Solution: To maximize the house’s space and vistas, the architect conceived a whirlpool form with spaces radiating from a central courtyard at the center of the pinwheel-shaped floor plan. From an entrance on the east, spaces flow smoothly through the house: living and dining areas open on to a covered patio, which connects to the master bedroom.

Floor-to-ceiling windows afford 200-degree vistas of Malibu’s bluffs and the Pacific Ocean. A faceted roof creates dramatically folded ceilings inside. The house relies on natural ventilation for cooling.

Construction methods: Roberge used two structural systems: she nested a light timber frame enclosure for lateral load resistance within a steel moment frame of round columns. The steel frame supports the square steel tubes of the folded roof and the timber roof diaphragm, which in turn is covered by zinc panels.

6404 Hollywood Blvd Suite 329
Los Angeles CA 90028
323. 382.0191

January 2014
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