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SAOTA designed a self-contained oasis above Sunset Boulevard

SAOTA’s Hillside home in Los Angeles is located immediately above Sunset Boulevard on a promontory just one over from Pierre Koenig’s landmark Stahl House.

The site is a 20 000 square foot estate, featuring 300-degree views over the LA skyline and the city basin below, and the design was conceived of more as a self-contained oasis rather than a conventional house. The Stahl House served as a key point of departure. The forms and articulation of Hillside’s roof planes, which were pushed as far forward as possible so that they could create meaningful external covered living spaces, set its architecture in dialogue with the iconic silhouette nearby and connect it to the drama of its context.

luxury house surrounded with green plants image © Adam Letch 

The projecting eaves and soffits create a “fifth” façade proved fortuitous in creating a sense of identity because the wraparound perimeter views necessitated the carefully controlled placement of solid walls and extensive use of glass to maximise the panoramic potential of the site. Consequently, the architecture is defined through the floating, overlapping horizontal floor and roof plates curating specific view axes rather than mass walls or external structure.

house located on a green hillside image © Adam Letch 

The steep approach from below resulted in a dramatic entrance through a top-lit central atrium – rising via a 12-car underground garage and an indoor waterfall cascading into a courtyard – before surfacing into the centre of the living level in a dramatic moment of revelation as a dead-on view of downtown LA opens up. The programme is arranged around this focal view, loosely forming two wings, one oriented east-west, and the other north-south. The largely open-plan interior, in the absence of mass walls, has been articulated vertically and through volumetric changes to rationalise the layout.

hillside house in los Angeles with timber wood facade image © Adam Letch 

References to modernist construction techniques are picked up in the articulation of the steel columns and the sensuous and tactile use of timber and limestone on the floors and wall, which is carried extensively throughout the interior and exterior detailing. Some of the identifying features such as the cut-outs in the roof have been reprised in the detailing of the interior ceilings to add interest.

wooden door image © Adam Letch 

In keeping with SAOTA’s extensive experience in developing seamless indoor/outdoor open-plan living spaces appropriate to their base in Cape Town, South Africa, where the Mediterranean climate and topography are very similar to that in LA, they conceived of the programme as a series of living rooms connected to extensive covered outdoor terraces. These outdoor spaces are in turn enclosed by a vast undulating infinity pool and lush landscaping along the perimeter, subtly screening neighbouring properties (and ensuring their privacy) with climbing ficus trees.

luxury home with wooden deck terrace and swimming pool image © Adam Letch 

In keeping with the principles taken from the Stahl House and the ground-breaking Los Angeles Case Study Houses, which were built between 1945 and 1966, the generous allocation of outdoor space maximises the potential of the liveable climate, reconnecting contemporary LA architecture with a somewhat lost aspect of its modernist heritage.

opened door to the entrance of the home image © Adam Letch 

luxury house with central courtyard next Ferrari at garage image © Adam Letch 

staircase with metal and glass image © Adam Letch 

colorful painting frame hanged on the wall next to staircase image © Adam Letch 

large glass window let the natural sunlight enters the corridor image © Adam Letch 

modern house in LA with palm trees and pool image © Adam Letch 

dining table with city view though window image © Adam Letch 

office desk with bookshelf at behind image © Adam Letch 

black kitchen design with marble stone island image © Adam Letch 

kitchen design with marble stone island image © Adam Letch 

luxury living room with comfortable sofa image © Adam Letch 

bedroom design image © Adam Letch 

luxury bathroom design with bathtub and green plants inside image © Adam Letch 

bedroom with panoramic window viewimage © Adam Letch 

SAOTA designed a self-contained oasis above Sunset Boulevardimage © Adam Letch 

luxury house with swimming pool image © Adam Letch 

infinity pool with LA city view image © Adam Letch 

modern house with wooden deck and pool at outside image © Adam Letch 

pudro furniture for pool image © Adam Letch 

swimming pool with lighting at night image © Adam Letch 

SAOTA designed a self-contained oasis above Sunset Boulevardimage © Adam Letch 

house with palm tree inside the pool image © Adam Letch 

luxury house with pool an sunset view image © Adam Letch 

cozy outdoor living space with fire pit during night image © Adam Letch 

modern house with timber facade illuminated at night image © Adam Letch 

cozy outdoor space with fire pit and city view at night image © Adam Letch 

SAOTA designed a self-contained oasis above Sunset Boulevardimage © Adam Letch 

wooden texture image © Adam Letch 

Los Angeles city view from above image © Adam Letch 

Basement Plan Basement Plan 

First Floor Plan First Floor Plan 

Second Floor Plan Second Floor Plan 

Upper Floor Plan Upper Floor Plan 

Site Plan Site Plan 

Section A-ASection A-A

East Elevation East Elevation 

North & South Elevation North & South Elevation 


Projects Name: Hillside  

Architecture firm: SAOTA 

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Site Area: 20,000 ft²

Project Area: 1590 m²

Project team: Mark Bullivant, Philip Olmesdahl, Alwyn De Vos, Eugene Olivier & Conrad Martin 

Architect of Record: WOODS + DANGARAN

Project Manager: Park Lane Projects

Contractor:  Fortis Development

Landscaping: Chris Sosa

Lighting Design: Lux Populi

Interior Designer: MASS Beverly

Furnished by:  MASS Beverly & Minotti LA

Artwork: Creative Art Partners

Property Agents: Oppenheim Group & Bond Street Partners

Photographey:  Adam Letch

Copy by: Graham Wood

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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