The owner of this project, an independent film director, contributed greatly to the inspiration for the building. The design was informed by a fascination with his work, not only film and television, but also music, paintings, lyrics, cartoons and furniture designs.

Parallels between the architectural design process and methods used during movie shooting became apparent, and were exploited. For example, a new setback line at the northwest corner did not allow the addition to line up with the lower floor. This restriction led to the generation of further angled cuts into the volume of the theater. Their seeming randomness reflects the idiosyncratic nature of the owner’s work, while accommodating an initially problematic zoning situation. Similar responses, where obstacles are ultimately turned into benefits, can also be seen in the owner’s filmmaking. Before demolition started, the house had been a set for his last film, where it played a starring role as the scene of an unfolding schizophrenic and chaotic tale. Trace elements of the movie’s themes remain, both physically and, more subtly, in a similar approach to problem-solving and design.

The project is a remodel and addition to a small 1950s house on a steep uphill slope. The program includes a movie screening room (also to be used for sound design, editing and music recording) and a painting and drawing studio. A small office on the lower floor, a kitchen and an outdoor patio above the roof level were also added.

The two main spaces can be seen as opposite extremes within a common shell. While the painting studio needs natural and diffused light, the screening room requires complete darkness. The openness of the painting space contrasts with the absolute enclosure of the recording studio.

The painting and drawing room relies on a connection with the real outside world, whereas the virtual reality of the film and sound production in the other spaces demand perfect isolation and seclusion. The natural light coming through the skylights and windows contrasts with the artificialprojection rays through the celluloid. Street noises and birdsong are audible in the painting studio, but are excluded and replaced in the screening theater by man-made sounds produced by amplifiers and loudspeakers. Likewise, traditional manual methods of oil painting and chalk drawing on the one hand must coexist with the newest digital sound and picture technology on the other.

In short, two divergent spatial concepts are combined, contrasting with and influencing each other. The typically Californian dissolution of the boundaries between inside and outside is confronted by the secluded dreamworld of a virtual reality. The exterior of the building reflects the duality of the inside, but mediates between the two different aspects to create a dynamic, if tense, equilibrium. 

building use: film mixing, dubbing, screening, studio facility          
project scope:    architecture, interiors, acoustics, furnishings, equipment
schedule:  completed 1997
construction cost:         N/A