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Montecito Residence

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  • Elizabeth Bianchi Conklin
  • General Contractor: Bob Young
  • Interior Designer: Debbie Kennedy
  • Nikolas Koenig

Project Status



3,786 sq. feet



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Project Description

2010 RADA
Custom / More Than 3,000 Square Feet / Merit

Subdued and stunning are two adjectives not often uttered in the same sentence, but that’s how the judges described this project. “It’s like a wedding chapel in Japan,” said one. “It’s sculptural but fits in, and is part of the path.”

And what a destination it is. Set in the fire-prone Toro Canyon, the house responds to big views and extreme environmental conditions. Its hardscrabble concrete and steel blend into the land, and its form harvests the elements—sun and wind—that create potential hazards. The overhanging roof provides shade and sheds water for a future cistern, its tail kicking up toward the view and prevailing breezes. “That’s where the 18-foot Dutch door comes in,” explains Tom Kundig, FAIA. “The upper portion can be opened, allowing breezes to flow through while maintaining security. Operating both together opens the spine dramatically for the entry sequence, building to the main box that strings the main rooms along the edge of the bluff.”

A judge noted appreciatively that the design “understands approach and arrival and is modest, considering what the land is worth.”
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