Just below the Hollywood sign on a west facing ridge above Los Angeles sits Nakahouse, a recently completed abstract remodel of a 1960s house by California and Switzerland based architectural firm XTen. Sitting tightly in the Hollywood Hills with the Griffith Park Observatory in the distance, the large windows of Nakahouse open onto terraces at different levels and frame the view of the valley below.
XTen, which was founded in 2000 by partners Monika Häfelfinger and Austin Kelly, take a considered approach to their buildings. This is especially important with a renovation, where there are so many variables already in place. "We start with all the known parameters about that project – the site, the structure, the program we've been given," Austin Kelly tells Phaidon. "Then begin developing and testing hypotheses from there."
The existing footprint of the house was kept due to geographical and budget constraints. "The existing home was built as a series of interconnected terraced spaces on the down slope property." Despite the properties space limitations, XTen did find room to add a terrace outside the kitchen with a steel staircase leading up to the rooftop sun-deck and Jacuzzi.
The stark white interior, which was completely re-thought, achieves its sleek and modern aesthetic with a mixture of lacquered cabinets, matt white quartz, epoxy resin floors and decks. The outside walls contrast with the interior and the lush setting as they are finished in a smooth black plaster designed to render the building a sculptural object.
XTen have undertaken commissions for residential, cultural and commercial buildings in Turkey, Oman, Dubai and across California and their buildings have featured on the covers of Architectural Digest, Elle Décor and Wallpaper, among others. They have also recently completed Desert Panorama House (below), which overlooks the mountain range at the eastern end of the Coachella Valley. The indoor-outdoor style of the house is designed to accommodate the varied weather in the area as it is known for its extreme heat and severe winds in the summer and temperate, sunny days but cooler nights in the winter.
"We’re most proud of Nakahouse and Desert Panorama House. They were both challenging for different reasons," Kelly tells Phaidon. "They were in totally different sites and environmental conditions - one in the Hollywood hills, one in the arid conditions of Palm Springs. Challenging, in a good way."
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