Southern California is full of precipitous canyons, and houses cling to their sides like barnacles on a breakwater. South African entrepreneur Mark Troughton and his wife, Tara Mc Whirter, found a live-work space that Cigolle X Coleman architects built for themselves in 1992 to exploit
the steep slope and views over the canyon. "We loved the
light, space and scale," says Troughton, "but the house needed
a complete overhaul, and we brought in Mark Rios, who had
remodeled our previous, midcentury modern home."
Architects often use their own houses as laboratories,
experimenting on themselves before going public. Here, the
low street-level facade concealed a double garage and raw-surfaced studio, cut off from the living and sleeping areas below.
Other rooms were located in a tower, clad with copper and
silvery scales, which was angled to face out to the ocean. An
exposed steel frame supported on caissons anchors the house to
the slope, allowing infill walls to be relocated or removed. As Mark
Rios, co-principal of Rios Clementi Hale, explains: "We wanted
to connect the different areas and levels, so we opened up
the house to create an easy flow of circulation, and pulled the
landscape into these complex forms."