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RO54, a single family residence in Bel Air, California (USA) by Arshia Architects

Project name:
Architecture firm:
Arshia Architects
1254 Roberto Ln, Bel Air, California, USA
Paul Vu, Yuheng Huang, Renee Parkhurst
Principal architect:
Arshia Mahmoodi
Design team:
Arshia Mahmoodi (Design Principal), Xinlei Li (Project Manager, Project Designer), Yuheng Huang (Project Designer), Fang Cui (Project Designer), Ruby Wu (Project Designer), Zhishan Liu (Project Designer)
Mike Parsee (Project Developer), Hillside Inspections, Inc (Soils Engineer)
Interior design:
Arshia Architects
Built area:
6,713 ft²
Site area:
10,314.8 ft²
Design year:
Completion year:
June 2022
Civil engineer:
GreyStone Engineering Group Inc.
Structural engineer:
BOLD Engineer & Associates Inc.
Environmental & MEP:
GMEP Engineers
Arshia Architects
Arshia Architects
Tools used:
Domaen Build Inc
Substructure: Exposed structural concrete retaining walls with integral pigment (graphite iron oxide). Superstructure: Structural steel with light gauge steel framing infill and wood joist framing. Exterior Shell: CNC milled High-Density Urethane (HDU) boards coated with mineral plaster. Interior Wall Surfaces: Painted drywall, walnut wood veneer, exposed pigmented concrete, marble slabs. Floor Material: Plaster, Engineered walnut wood flooring
Residential › House

Arshia Architects proudly introduces RO54, perched on a hilltop in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles basin. The project gently lands a dynamic building on top of a buried podium that replicates the natural topography that existed prior to the area being subdivided for development. This hollow post-war neighborhood has been transforming gradually, overtaken by recent developments that rely on size, rather than spatial quality. The concept set out to reduce the massing of a rather large project in order for it to lodge within the neighborhood proportionally. It proposes an alternative model within the confines of stringent regulations.

This project engages an exercise in spatial relationships to accelerate the programs of the house. It utilizes the split-level design to follow the topography of the hill, and to connect the floor half-story plates. The plates form adjacencies, both visual and functional, thus allowing twice the utility of an otherwise compartmentalized organization.

The project’s aesthetic was directed by streamline automotive design which, among others, proposed concealed performance for every technology in the house. The interior palette was based on a utilitarian approach to materials, in contrast to the overall ambient approach of the design where space overcame necessity. This balance of power proceeded in the backdrop of environmental sensitivity and clinical dearth.

A courtyard, created by daylighting the lower bedrooms from the buried podium, also acts as the rainwater runoff filtration system for the entire site. The project meets or exceeds stringent California green building and energy conservation standards such as low-flow plumbing systems, drought tolerant planting, rainwater filtration, photovoltaic integration, high efficiency building envelope and glazing, HERS rating of the mechanical system, and more.

Indoor materials specified were sourced naturally and are compliant with Low VOC standards. The design palette was kept minimal to an all natural selection including mica plaster, hardwood flooring, and natural stone. The project sought out minimal, low-impact, and proven materials, achieving a balance between durability, ease of maintenance, and responsible design.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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