David Hertz Architects FAIA & The Studio of Environmental Architecture

Split House

This project sits on a tiny lot in Venice, California abutting an alleyway, heavily trespassed as a walking route to the Pacific Ocean just off of famed Abbot Kinney Blvd. The home was commissioned buy a Hollywood director who was interested in maximizing the natural light, ventilation while creating a dramatic interior space.

The house makes use of its small lot by separating the typical single object building into two parts, "floating" the main house, in reflecting pools on the front, and the subsequent courtyard created between the two buildings. The front water court, starts at an elevation equal to the first floor and spills over a waterfall at the entry, which is tiled in variegated shades of Blue Mosaic tiles.

The structure is "sliced" (hence the name), down the length of the two buildings running down the middle and pulled apart to create a continuous frameless glass skylight, which, creates a visual line of sight while providing abundant natural light from the center to all interior spaces.

The exterior is clad with a rain screen fabricated from Parklex wood panels which form oversized 24” wide x 96” long brick like panels that dissolve at the courtyard and provide edited views beyond and within, and screen the voids created where the bridge that connects the two buildings spans the courtyard. The Parklex panels wrap from the exterior in the same module and joint spacing as the exterior, into the kitchen and powder room to create a monolithic and solid wall. The Parklex panels part and give way to a tall hidden door panel that works within the grid pattern and spacing at the courtyard to floating concrete slabs as a walkway over the water court for an alternate side entry.

The central stair is fabricated to allow for open risers and a stepped stringer to make a floating open riser with treads of 2 in. thick hardwood. The stacked stair leads to a continuous skylight with operable skylights that are thermostatically controlled to work as a solar chimney to exhaust out hot air and funnel cool prevailing ocean breezes into the home. The house is entirely passively naturally ventilated and solar hydronic radiant heated.


split house

This residence is bifurcated by a primary longitudinal axis, which registers as two building volumes from the exterior. This enables a frameless glass skylight to run down the middle of the house for optimum natural light. Circulation through the home’s three levels follows this axis as well, which ultimately terminates in the roof deck.

The house is also split by a secondary, transverse axis that creates a central courtyard. Panels from the facade are omitted to create a dissolved appearance in contrast with the binary split of the main axis, resulting in rectilinear shapes framing the sky. The side entry, hidden amidst the panels when closed, opens to create a new opening amidst the solid / void geometry.

Project Details

Year: 2008
Location: Venice, CA
Typology: single family residence
Program: 3 bed, 3.5 bath
Size: 1,900 sqft
Sustainable Features:

  • photovoltaic panels
  • solar hydronic radiant heating
  • natural ventilation
  • thermostatic controls
  • solar chimney
  • FCS certified walnut cabinetry and counters
Structural Engineer: JN Engineering
Interior Design: Chris Rossi Studio (furnished by owner)
Owner's Representative Anastasia Bowen
Landscape Design: Andre Jackson, Jack Price Design
Photography: Anthony Barcelo, Laura Doss