Kuhn Residence
Santa Monica, CA

This unique residential compound was designed for the Owner of a property with four existing apartment units. Two units join with the Owner’s front unit to create a courtyard that is entered from the street. The fourth apartment is in the rear located over the existing garages.

An innovative solution was required in order to add 1,000 square feet to the Owner’s unit while respecting the existing layout of the rental apartments and responding to new front and side yard requirements that substantially restricted the allowable buildable area. The design transforms the existing main level into an open plan for the public spaces, and locates the private office area and bedrooms upstairs in the new addition. Our vision includes bringing in an abundance of daylight and maximizing fresh air: Upper and lower stories are connected by a stairway that is also a passive solar thermal chimney and source of light. The generous upper landing area functions as the open office, looking out over the lush green roof that covers the main level kitchen, dining, and living areas.

Our design approach demonstrates the most sustainable development option for this property by greatly enhancing the “Owner’s Residence” in the front while preserving and updating the existing rentals in an R-1 zone that consistently loses rental housing to new Single Family developments. This project transforms the existing outdated apartment buildings into a contemporary yet intimate compound: a modern and warm architecture of sustainability.