House Call: The Vhouse

House Call: The Vhouse

Gregory Han
Feb 11, 2009

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Name: Vhouse
Architects: XTEN Architecture
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA

We've always had a love and hate relationship with the Valley. Growing up on the northern most part of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, our experience with residential architecture began and ended with a "T" with a "RAC" inbetween. But as we've become older, and perhaps a wee wiser, we've come to appreciate the Valley's hidden charm. Whether it's the secret enclave of Eichlers in the north eastern section of Granada Hills, or the showcase homes dotting Encino's mountain side, or even the run down apartment complexes that line Reseda Blvd., there are sections of our childhood Valley which reward curiosity...

We're adding Sherman Oaks as a architectural destination after spying Los Angeles architecture firm XTEN's Vhouse (the same firm which designed the gallery/residence and past house tour, The Mhouse), a hillside redwood sided home with a courtyard design which compliments the indoor/outdoor lifestyle Angelenos make famous.

About the VHouse:

The Vhouse fits into its canyon site like a pavilion. Four bearing walls are oriented perpendicular to the hillside and follow the site lines of the v-shaped lot. The folds and cantilevers of the roof geometry are articulated to respond to specific site conditions: turned down at the street edge to create privacy; folded up above the bearing walls to gain light from the sides; and sloped up again at the rear of the site to open the interior spaces to the hillside through full-scale glass.

The courtyard is planned as an outdoor room around which the different types of day and nighttime living are organized. Direct access from the open kitchen allows for outdoor dining and entertaining throughout the year, while secondary openings in the bearing walls allow for access from the bedrooms in the mornings.

Minimal detailing and materiality is indivisibly bound to the architectural concept. The bearing walls are clad in wide redwood planks that wrap continuously from exterior to interior. The non-structural infill facades are made of fine redwood slat panels alternating with open glass zones. The exposed wood framing overhead aligns with these alternating solid/void areas, generating a series of continuous lines that articulate the interior space, extend into the courtyard and frame the landscape beyond.

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