Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Ackerberg House

Malibu, California

1984 - 1986, Addition: 1992 - 1994

By referring to the indigenous courtyard types of Southern California – their sunlit courts and play between vertical and horizontal spaces – the Ackerberg House mediates the contextual extremes of the mountains along the coastal highway and the Pacific Ocean. L-shaped in plan, the house looks out over three adjacent courts: an internal courtyard connected to the living room, a tennis court, and a granite terrace. The major spaces of the compound gradually unfold from vertical to horizontal, like the sides of a box.

The progression through the house begins at the north wall, which is clad in white ceramic tile. Through a double-height entrance hall one passes via a loggia along the internal courtyard past a framed view of the ocean. The internal court, with its high walls and undulating, stucco surfaces, interprets the experience of the mountains on a domestic scale. Entry into the public area of the house lies between the curved wall of the living area and the vertical mass of the house’s private zone.

The living room is a central, dramatic double-height space with clerestory windows and sliding glass doors. In order to modulate and inflect the intense California light, the house is generously provided with skylights and brises soleil. These sunscreens-vertical surfaces pulled away from the mass of the house at roof level-create a transitional space between the house and the terrace, an occupiable fa├žade.

From the road, the house reads as a layered wall of rectilinear sheets, while from the terrace and pool the house is experienced as a dense massing of white posts and curved sunscreens. By the time one reaches the terrace, with its view of the endless Pacific, the house, sky, and mountains have become elements in a spatial conception that locates the occupant at the junction of nature and the response of architecture.

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