David Hertz Architects FAIA & The Studio of Environmental Architecture

Floating House


he project is located on a small, 37 foot wide lot on a pedestrian "Walk Street" in Venice, CA. Rather than create one "object building," two buildings attached by an open-air bridge was conceived to create a courtyard space to give the occupant the feeling of being outside or underneath the second floor while maintaining privacy. The larger of the structures is used as a residence while the other is used as an art studio and guestroom over a garage. The ground floor extends from the exterior courtyard into the interior and vise versa to blur the definition of interior and exterior space.

Large, sliding doors are concealed so that the ground floor appears to be open to the exterior courtyards. A large exterior 2-story chimney wall frames the terminus of the courtyard while concealing the adjacent 2-story neighboring residence. The exterior fireplace at the second floor flanks an outdoor sleeping porch and seating area off of the perforated breezeway bridge. Walls on the first floor are intentionally held from touching the ceiling of the second floor to allow for a clear line of site over neighboring residences and giving the illusion that the second story is floating above the first floor. The mass of the second floor elevations is divided into sections of positive and negative spaces that reinforce the destabilization of the wall plane. Some of the vertical slices are specific to selective views of nearby palm trees. A central floating stair divides the spaces and leads to a usable roof deck framed by high solid parapet walls providing privacy and strategically edited views of the distant landscape.

A continuous skylight, that opens to serve as a shaft to facilitate stack effect ventilation, frames the stair that floats from the ceiling of the second story. The exterior walls of the second story are covered in a smooth, steel troweled, integrally pigmented stucco and turn inside horizontally to form the interior ceiling of the first floor further emphasizing the weight of the "floating" mass above.


floating house

Located on a pedestrian walk-street in Venice, this residence is best understood from the vantage point of the private courtyard. Located between two volumes connected by an open-air walkway, the outdoor space seemingly continues through floor-to-ceiling glass and inside the house. The exterior walls of building are covered in a smooth, dark stucco that then wraps around and covers the interior ceiling of the first floor. Because the walls also stop shy of the ceiling, the second floor mass appears to phenomenologically “float” above the first floor.

Project Details

Year: 2004
Location: Venice, CA
Typology: single family residence
Program: 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 half bath
Size: 2,500 sqft
Photography: Laura Doss, Yoshio Futagawa, Fawn Art


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