Oak Pass Main House
This 8,000-square-foot house in Beverly Hills, California, does not appear to be nearly as large as its size indicates. This stems from the fact architect Noah Walker and his design-build Walker Workshop placed two-thirds of the house below-grade, in order to protect trees on the site and reduce the scale of the house, all the while maintaining views of its surroundings.
The main house is the second phase of a two-house development on a 3.5 acre hillside side in Beverly Hills. The main house is approximately 8,000 s.f. and consists of five bedrooms below a vegetated green roof, one lap pool and one swimming pool.
The Oak Pass Main house uses an “Upside Down” program, with public spaces above the bedrooms, which are buried into the hill and beneath a green roof of edible herbs. This relatively large house at 8,000 square feet appears much smaller and carefully integrated into the surrounding landscape, which includes over one hundred and thirty Coast Live Oaks. A seventy five foot swimming pool, with infinity edges on three of four sides, bisects the house and slips below one of the largest Oaks on the property.
“The characteristic of the site was the primary design driver for this project. The site runs along a ridge in a grove of Coast Live Oak trees (over 125 live Oaks on the parcel). There are strong views to the west, north, and east.
Topography and trees were critical. In California, the Coast Live Oak is protected and cannot be touched, so the houses had to be designed around them. I also understood that, given the natural beauty of the site, it would be important to make the relatively large house as diminutive as possible. To achieve this I placed 2/3 of the program below grade and much of it under a vegetated roof. Because the house is sited on a ridge, the lower level was still able to have commanding views and vistas from nearly every window. I wanted to showcase the view of one of the more majestic Oaks on the property so I placed the lap pool below the Oak so it would reflect the tree and placed a smaller section of the house alongside it as a pavilion. It was important on this site to make it feel like nature was coming first, and the house second.
I tend to think of design as a spiraling process. In this case the initial concept was strong so the design was more a case of a series of progressive refinements. One of the last incorporated elements was the interior courtyard which came about as a means of bringing light and interest into the underground program. Its closed nature became a nice contrast to the openness to the views in all other parts of the house.” – Noah Walker
The Oak Pass Main House sits atop a 3.5-acre ridge site with panoramic canyon views. The property’s topography and landscape, which most notably include over 130 protected Coast Live Oak Trees, were the primary drivers for the house’s design. In order to showcase and amplify the site’s inherent beauty, the house’s mass is buried into the hillside, with only a one-story pavilion above grade as it unfolds along the ridge.
The house’s upper level is composed of an array of masses that contains the kitchen, living, and dining areas. Each of these components rotates slightly to frame a unique perspective, together creating a panoramic impression of the canyon from the inside. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors pocket into the walls, dissolving the structure into a series of planes that facilitates a gentle continuity between the interior and exterior spaces.
On the lower level, a hallway to the east grants access to the bedrooms, which open to sweeping views of the canyon below. A sunken courtyard flanks the hallway, bringing in light and air from above, and creating a more intimately-scaled outdoor space that serves the house’s private programmatic functions.
On its exterior, the house meets the site delicately by absorbing, reflecting, and merging with its features. Much of the lower level sits beneath a vegetated roof, which folds the structure into the hillside and pulls the landscape to the base of the living spaces above. Bisecting the house, a seventy-five foot infinity lap pool creates continuity between the trees and their reflection in the water, accentuating the vastness of the landscape and extending its most striking characteristics across the property.
The material palette, both on the interior and exterior of the house, is reminiscent of the earth, and enhances without overpowering the landscape. The use of a primarily concrete structure enables longer spans and cantilevers throughout the house, creating a weightlessness of form that at critical points anchors firmly into the earth. This method of construction generates a simultaneous impression of lightness and heft, a juxtaposition that is characteristic of the tree-lined hills of which the house becomes an integrated component.
Project name: Oak Pass Main House
Location: 9601 Oak Pass Rd, Beverly Hills, California 90210, United States
Coordinates: 34.117811, -118.427089
- Type By Characteristic: Contemporary House, Luxury House
- Type By Site: Hill House
- Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Concrete House
Site Area: 151,584 sq.ft. / 13,644 sqm
Project Area: 8,000 sq.ft. / 720 sqm
Completion Year: 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Nathan Frankel
Architects: Walker Workshop – 5574 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016, United States
Design Principal￼￼￼: Noah Walker
Project Team: Ted Leviss, Trent Laughton, Erin White
- Structural Engineer: John Labib and Associates
- Civil Engineer: Barbara L. Hall, P.E.
Contractor/Construction Manager: Walker Workshop
Window and Doors: Fleetwood
Text Description: © Courtesy of Walker Workshop, world-architects
Images: © Walker Workshop, Joe Fletcher Photography, Nick Springett