Form first, function second?

Remember those '50s cars where great style wasn't restricted by the engine shape? Well this sleek home also puts good looks first

Designed by Arisha Architects

From the architects:

The home is perched on a hilltop in the Bel Air neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood proportionally. 

It proposes an alternative model within the confines of stringent regulations.

The project engages an exercise in spatial relationships to accelerate the programs of the house. 

It utilises the split-level design to follow the topography of the hill, and to connect the floor half-storey plates. 

The plates form adjacencies, both visual and functional, thus allowing twice the utility of an otherwise compartmentalised organisation.

The project’s aesthetic was directed by streamline automotive design which 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 was optimised over necessity. 

This balance of power proceeded in the backdrop of environmental sensitivity and the avoidance of a clinical feel.


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 architects sought out minimal, low-impact, and proven materials, achieving a balance between durability, ease of maintenance, and responsible design.

The project has won 18 international design awards.

Explore the home.

Credit list

Structural engineer
BOLD Engineer & Associates
Civil engineer
GreyStone Engineering Group
Interior architect, landscape architect; lighting designer
Arshia Architects
CNC milled High-Density Urethane (HDU) boards coated with mineral plaster
Plaster; engineered walnut wood
Air conditioning
High Efficiency Zoned Variable Air Handler units with roof-integrated condenser compartment and custom manufactured micro-slot diffusers
Lutron Homeworks mainframe with Palladium interfaces and shading devices
Encapsulated foundation membrane; polymesh applied surface waterproofing over whole house, adhered membrane
General contractor
Domaen Build
MEP engineer
GMEP Engineers
Soils engineer
Hillside Inspections
Super structure
Structural steel with light gauge steel framing infill and wood joist framing
Interior surfaces
Painted drywall, walnut wood veneer, exposed pigmented concrete, marble slabs
Diffused LED lightfield; linear LED lights; pin-hole LED lights
Water efficient fixtures
Cumaru wood decking, Silver Decomposed Granite, Aggregate finish concrete, Arizona Flagstone boulders
Native, drought tolerant planting

Designed by: Arshia Architects

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Paul Vu / Renee Parkhurst / Yuheng Huan

20 Aug, 2023

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