Altamira Residence by Marmol Radziner


Los Angeles-based studio Marmol Radziner has designed the Altamira Residence. Completed in 2007, this 15,500 square foot complex with a main residence, study, guesthouse, and garage is located in Palos Verdes, California, USA. Occupying 20-acres along the rugged coastline of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the undeveloped site held memories of childhood camping trips, family picnics, and romantic sunsets between husband and wife.  Because of this sense of place, the clients wanted to maintain the “untouched” feel of the land as much as possible in the design of their 15,500 square foot family complex and to connect it to the surrounding landscape both physically and visually. Connections to the site extend beyond the physical locations of the structures and outdoor areas to the selection of building and landscape materials that repeat the colors and textures indigenous to the area.  Local shale was used to clad the concrete walls, the landscape boulders were harvested from a nearby quarry, and the over 30,000 plants were contract-grown from native California seed. The planting design in particular connects the built environment not only to the natural but also to the ocean.  The drifting masses of native shrubs evoke the waves below; paralleling their direction, creating a similar visual rhythm, and reflecting similar colors of greens and blues.  Just as waves become shallower and encounter sand bars as they come into shore, the plants become shorter and are interrupted by large areas of sand as they approach the house.  At the guest house, the most inland of the structures, succulents that resemble sea urchins, star fish, and corals are used to evoke the feeling of entering a tidal pool or estuary.

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