Walnut Residence, designed by Modal Design.
Benny Chan / Fotoworks Walnut Residence, designed by Modal Design.

Modal Design 

Inspired by the captivating qualities of an existing stately pine tree on the site, Los Angeles–based Modal Design, led by Daniel Monti, AIA, created a house that tucks under and around the old-growth branches. The pine’s broad canopy forces the functional areas of the 3,100-square-foot house to the front of the lot, where three bedrooms are stacked above the entrance, office, and garage. A curtain of folded, Cor-Ten steel panels—perforated with circles of various diameters—forms a porous barrier between public and private space. The metal screen also creates patterns of dappled light on the interior floors and walls. Circular disks left over as byproducts of the CNC water-jet cutting process were reconstituted as a balustrade enclosing the stair that climbs from the first to the second floor. “The perforated screens are bold and decorative – and what’s commendable is they took it from the outside to the interior,” juror Joel Sanders, AIA, said. “The other nice thing is the circular pattern is not reduced to such a small scale that it blends together in shadow on the floor, so the graphic quality is clearly maintained,” added juror Josh Shelton, AIA. “That’s part of the fun—that play of light.”

Click here to see all of the winners of the 2014 Residential Architect Design Awards.

Benny Chan / Fotoworks Bedroom.

Benny Chan / Fotoworks Stairwell.

Facade detail.
Benny Chan / Fotoworks Facade detail.

Stairway, view from first floor.
Benny Chan / Fotoworks Stairway, view from first floor.

Living area.
Benny Chan / Fotoworks Living area.

Pool and preserved pine tree in the rear yard.
Benny Chan / Fotoworks Pool and preserved pine tree in the rear yard.

Stairwell, view from second floor.
Benny Chan / Fotoworks Stairwell, view from second floor.


First-Floor Plan.
Courtesy Modal Design First-Floor Plan.

Second-Floor Plan.
Courtesy Modal Design Second-Floor Plan.

Project Credits

Project  Walnut Residence, Los Angeles
Architect  Modal Design, Los Angeles—Daniel Monti, AIA
General Contractor  Bozulich McLean Henrich General Contractors—Bill McLean
Landscape Architect  Bent Grass—Jeff Pervorse
Photography  Benny Chan, Fotoworks
Project Size  3,126 square feet
Construction Cost  $400 per square foot

Materials and Sources

Bathroom Fittings  Dornbracht dornbracht.com
Bathroom Fixtures  Kohler kohler.com
Cooktop  Wolf subzero-wolf.com
Dishwasher  Bosch bosch-home.com
Flooring  Scofield scofield.com; walnut
Garbage Disposal  InSinkErator insinkerator.com
Hardware  Sugatsune sugatsune.com
Kitchen Fittings  KWC kwc.us.com
Kitchen Fixtures  Julien julien.ca
Lighting Fixtures  Elco Lighting elcolighting.com
Oven  Wolf subzero-wolf.com
Paints and Finishes  Benjamin Moore & Co. benjaminmoore.com
Refrigerator  Sub-Zero subzero-wolf.com
Skylights  Lane-Aire lane-aire.com
Windows  Aluminum Services;  Fleetwood Windows & Doors fleetwoodusa.com; Metal Window Corp. metalwindowcorp.com