David Hertz Architects FAIA & The Studio of Environmental Architecture




Xanabu is an eclectic landscape hidden amidst the Santa Monica mountains. The name is an amalgam of Malibu and Xanadu, Kublai Khan’s edenic palace described by Marco Polo. Tony Duquette, a set designer of the Hollywood Golden Age, designed and built the diverse structures and follies found around the property. Using recycled props and materials, most discarded from the movie and aerospace industries, Duquette realized a unique oasis of architectural treasures. The grounds also include an Adirondack style hunting lodge from the 1930s.

David Hertz and SEA actively work to restore and preserve this cultural patrimony, as well as continue the experimental legacy of Duquette in the 21st C. The grounds are home to Skysource Ranch, where research and development on WEDEW is underway to provide the Deer Creek community with micro-grid resilience. Among the many site improvements currently under the works, a regenerative coffee plantation is being cultivated.

Xanabu is available for filming—email hello@xanabu.com for more information.

Project Details

Year: ongoing
Location: Malibu, CA
Typology: historic preservation
Original Designer: Tony Duquette
Visit: Xanabu

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery."

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Kubla Khan," 1816