Arch. Dome. Vault. The terms are relics of architectural history, but in Southern California they are also the building blocks of suburbia, where Mission-style McMansions flaunt endless stucco arches and vaulted foyers. Principals Sharon Johnston, AIA, and Mark Lee of Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee, however, have updated the archaic and used vaults to rethink a beach house in Oxnard, Calif., just north of Malibu.
Designed for Steven and Jerri Nagelberg, a couple who split their time between the shore and downtown L.A., Johnston Marklee’s scheme addresses a typology common to beachfront communities: Narrow and deep houses sit flank-to-flank along the sand, and while the living room and second-floor master suite of each look onto the ocean, the rest of the house is typically a dim warren.
“At the outset of the design, we asked ourselves how to bring light, air, and a view all the way into the house,” Lee says. Rooms in Johnston Marklee’s 3,600-square-foot scheme are organized so that one flows into another, from the all-glass beachfront façade to the street, allowing for glimpses of the Pacific throughout the house. The architects pushed the second-floor master suite back from the waves—allowing the living room to fill the whole front of the house—and carved out a courtyard into the middle of the plan. The result is that every room has access to the outdoors.
Vaulted ceilings of different sizes and curvatures define each room, from the kitchen to the guest bedrooms. The office created a 6-foot-long model in order to show the clients and the contractor how the curves come together, but construction was straightforward; the vaults were formed out of wood framing and dropped from the floor plate. “We are interested in using simple geometries to create complex effect,” Lee says. “We design in Rhino, but we could have designed the house using a compass.”
Drawings and Diagrams
Project Vault House, Oxnard, Calif.
Client Steven and Jerri Nagelberg
Architect Johnston Marklee, Los Angeles—Sharon Johnston, AIA; Mark Lee (principals); Katrin Terstegen (project manager); Andri Luescher, Nicholas Hofstede, Anna Neimark, Anton Schneider, Yoshi Nagamine, Ryan Roettker (project team)
Interior Designer Associates III
Structural Engineer William Koh and Associates
General Contractor RJP Construction & Painting—Raymond Puzio
Lighting Designer Light Studio LA (art lighting); Luminesce Design—Heather Libonati
Coastal Hazard and Wave Runup Study Geosoils
Audiovisual Consultant Chapman AV System
Facilitator SC Planners
Geotechnical Consultant Earth Systems Southern California
Size 3,600 square feet
Material and Sources
Acoustical System Baswaphon baswaphon.com
Appliances Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet kalamazoogourmet.com; Miele mieleusa.com; Sub-Zero subzero-wolf.com
Bathroom Fixtures Hansgrohe hansgrohe-usa.com; Kohler kohler.com; KWC kwc.us.com; Vola vola.com
Cabinets Poggenpohl poggenpohl.com
Countertops Caesarstone caesarstoneus.com
Exterior Wall Systems GrailCoat grailcoat.com; stucco
Lighting C.W. Cole & Co. (custom fixtures) colelighting.com
Masonry and Stone Daltile (limestone) daltile.com
Structural System Concrete deck and grade beam, driven piles (foundation), structural steel, wood framing
Windows and Doors Fleetwood fleetwoodusa.net