2013 P/A Awards
Site A 77,450-square-foot sloped lot in a cultivated Mediterranean landscape, with both mountain and sea views.
Program A central gathering space for a displaced, multicultural extended family, this 490-square-meter (5,274-square-foot) residence can house between five and 22 people in a flexible dormitory setup.
Solution Faced with strict zoning guidelines that limited both height and footprint, and the desire to maintain—and potentially expand—existing agricultural areas on the site, the architects at Boston-based NADAAA—working with local firms Bidard & Raissi and Agence Vieillecroze—created a new take on the courtyard–house typology. Public areas such as living, dining, workspace, and kitchen areas are housed, along with the master suite, on the upper level of the structure, in a volume that cantilevers out over the hillside. Completing the rhomboid plan is a lower level of flexible dormitory spaces with movable exterior walls that slide open to connect the interior to the surrounding gardens. The result is what the architects call a slipped courtyard, in the center of which is a large swimming pool, connected to the site by an open-air stair that passes under the cantilevered volume, and surrounded by terraces that boast outdoor dining and work areas.
The concrete structure is formed from a series of vaults and voids that allow for clerestory windows to bring light into the interior, and create a varied roof plane that is covered in native plantings. This allows for views from the upper, more public level, out through the courtyard and over the lower dormitory volume—the bulk of which seems to disappear into the landscape.
Juror Joan Soranno appreciated that the house “seems to respond to the site in a really beautiful way.” And the new approach to the courtyard typology intrigued juror Kimberly Holden, who thought that the architects “were very thoughtful with this re-evaluation of what a courtyard is.” And while the jury responded to the house for its beauty—juror Steven Ehrlich called it “absolutely gorgeous”—there was also an appreciation of a clearly delineated design process. “It’s progressive in its subtlety and its exploration,” juror Reed Kroloff said.