Photo © John Linden

Yin Yang House

Brooks + Scarpa

Venice, CA
July 2012

Capitalizing on southern California’s climate, Brooks + Scarpa’s house for a growing family gives the phrase “Go outside!” new meaning, with seamless indoor-outdoor spaces.

By Laura Raskin

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Larry Scarpa grew up in Florida, where the heat and humidity kept him indoors. “In Southern California, however, living outside is easy to do,” says the architect, whose firm Brooks + Scarpa is based in Los Angeles. “Now I can’t get away from imposing my desire on others.” Recent beneficiaries of his imposition include a couple whose young children are friends with Scarpa’s son. The family was living on a cramped lot on one of the canals in nearby Venice, but they gave up this otherwise desirable waterfront location for a Scarpa-designed, net zero energy, 4,700-square-foot house and roomy backyard elsewhere in the seaside district.

Family spaces trump private ones in the steel, glass, and bamboo house, which is L-shaped in plan and organized around outdoor courtyards. (It’s technically a remodel, but Scarpa tore down most of the existing structure, keeping only the foundation, garage, and the perimeter wall on the east side.) While the house appears solid from the street, the front entry leads directly to one of these courtyards. From there, the entire backyard, all the way to the rear garden gate, can be seen through the glass-walled living/dining room, which flows from an open kitchen. On the second floor, four small bedrooms keep the emphasis on the spaces where the family can be together, even if they’re not engaged in the same activity.

The bedrooms exit onto a bamboo deck and bleacher stairs, allowing children to bypass the rest of the house on their way inside or out. “I know from having a young kid of my own that you’re always screaming, ‘Inside or outside!’” says Scarpa. To visually unify the house, the architect defined horizontal and vertical edges with a steel band that winds without interruption around the exterior. “It pulls all the pieces together, a continuous squiggle,” says Scarpa. 

Brooks + Scarpa
4611 W. Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Tel. 310-828-0226
fax 310-453-9696

July 2012
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