By Ashley Breeding | November 12, 2011 7:00 AM
Photos By Larry A. Falke, Falke Photography
When Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (better known as Le Corbusier), architect and pioneer of International style, said, “The house is a machine for living in,” he was referring to a new type of housing that fit the industrial age. This led to a design that was rectilinear, spacious, simplistic and devoid of ornamentation. He used modern materials like steel, plated glass and reinforced concrete, and employed cantilever construction to help create a visually weightless aesthetic.
A contemporary interpretation of this style, where privacy was a sine qua non, is what the Cormac family was seeking when they hired NB-based Laidlaw Schultz Architects to design their home, a 3,548 square-foot compound nestled in the hillside of Corona del Mar’s Harbor View Hills neighborhood.
Both open and intimate, the pavilion-style home separates public from private with a solid sandstone façade and sliding metal gate that leads to the interior courtyard and personal domain, says Craig Schultz, AIA, the project’s leading architect.
Continuing this theme of open seclusion, a path from the entryway to the ocean-view hillside divides the personal spaces from the main living room and interior courtyard.
A spectacular feature of the project, indoor-outdoor living, is reflected in the outside living space, adjacent swimming pool and lounge, as well as mirror imagery and repetition of shapes, textures and materials throughout the interior and exterior.
Having just come through the sliding metal gate, the forecourt reveals the entry hall, kitchen and view in the distance.
The skylit back hall transitions seamlessly into the master suite and the storage closets become the primary master closet. Within the master bedroom, a television is hidden beneath the wooden floor, allowing for a more expansive space while comfortably stowed below. A brick backlit wall repeats the entry hallways materiality, adding to the light, texture and flow throughout the home.
In keeping with the indoor-outdoor theme, the sandstone pavers in the master bathroom flooring are also used outside. The shedua wood cabinetry is cantilevered off the tile wall, mimicking the exterior brick. This same brick wall creates a light pocket to create indirect lighting. The opposite wall is composed of lacquered cabinetry and a freestanding tub anchors the space.
Following Le Corbusier’s law that “all buildings should be white,” Schultz deployed the color in painted brick, striated marble and smooth plaster to create textural interest.
The cool aesthetic is juxtaposed by warm walnut paneling, doors and windows, and aged wood flooring to “balance sophistication and warmth,” Schultz explains.
Challenges the design team faced, including height restrictions that forbid obstruction of both existing and potential views, ultimately led to some of the project’s most desired details: split-levels within the home, the development of an outdoor living area, and an enlarged courtyard.
Many of these elements incorporated within the design are familiar to Schultz, whose portfolio stretches as far as Sun Valley, Idaho, and whose recent local work includes The Crossing Church, Port Theater and facilities at Fox Studios.
“While each project that we are involved with is specifically designed for the needs of that client, I think that many aspects of the Cormac home can be seen throughout our other work,” Schultz says.
The team’s careful attention to detail, polished palette and unique concept earned the project the Honor Award at the recent American Institute of Architects’ Residential Awards competition.
A “minimal aesthetic that would also suit a growing family” is the concept applied to the Cormac home, Schultz says. The couple’s international roots (Colin Cormac is South African; his wife, Carolina, is Argentinean) and cultural experiences, he says, brought a supremely sophisticated knowledge to the design process: “Their dedication to the project helped bring out the very best in the architecture, and their understanding of the importance of each aspect of the home helped in carrying out everything from the largest features of the home to the smallest detail.”
The view of the pavilion from the outdoor living room enhances the feel of indoor-outdoor living. An overhead trellis’ shadows mimic the horizontal windows at the entry, and walnut warms the lift-and-slide doors.
Once through the “sentry” wall, an outdoor forecourt acts as an entry vestibule for the residence. An oversized pivoting door unexpectedly reveals the views through the home that no one would suspect from the street approach. A painted brick wall continues the exterior texture of the building quietly reinforcing the indoor-outdoor quality of the home, with sand- stone pavers seamlessly continuing from outside to in.