It was because of the site that our clients purchased the 1955 modern house in a lush canyon surrounded by the Santa Monica mountains. The client knew parcels like these were rare – with uncommon privacy and expansiveness in Malibu - but the house itself also had what the client referred to as ‘good bones.’ Originally designed by local architect Alfred T. “Hap” Gilman, it had two additions, one in the 70s and one in 2004. We began this dramatic, but thoughtful, reimagining by stripping the original house back to its barest elements – namely, a few stone walls and many of the original roof beams. The new design brings back much of the home’s original 1950s spirit, while updating nearly every system and surface to the highest contemporary standards, including an earthquake-resistant structural retrofit and energy-efficient mechanical systems. Expansive glass walls along both elevations make the house almost completely transparent, but plantings and the natural topography provide absolute privacy from surrounding properties. These walls also create an interplay between the house and the site’s carefully landscaped gardens and unobstructed views of the mountains beyond. With strict regulations about what can be planted in this sensitive landscape, pollinator gardens and plantings native to the Santa Monica Mountains were created, including California Sycamore (Platanus racemosa) trees and meadows composed of Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), Calistoga Yarrow (Achillea millefolium ‘Calistoga’), Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Purple three-awn (Aristida purpurea var. purpurea), to create an informal and, uniquely Californian, landscape. A new terrazzo floor that spans the entire house continues to the outside hardscape further blurring the lines between indoor and out. This effortless transition between interior and exterior is a hallmark of the California Modernist movement. Clean lines and a carefully considered material palette provide calming interior spaces for living and entertaining. In these areas, each function is sensitively defined by custom walnut millwork, and the careful arrangement of furniture and lighting. Each of the five bedrooms include its own adjoining patio and custom millwork closet/storage, and natural light fills every room of the house. Terrazzo flooring and Douglas fir beams and tongue and groove ceilings flow out onto each terrace. Named the Mariposa House in acknowledgement of the abundant butterfly activity in and around the site, the new house is now an exemplar of the California Modernist movement with its effortless relationship between interior and exterior as well as a perfect old/new home for a young, vibrant family.
For more than 30 years, Brininstool + Lynch has produced work defined by elegance, clarity and rigor. Spanning every scale and scope, the firm’s 250+ projects are the result of a considered investigation into the social and environmental context, as well as a careful understanding of the client’s ambitions. From that base, new potentials and unexpected solutions are rigorously explored and refined. Always conscious of the natural, financial and temporal resources required to produce any building, Brininstool + Lynch seeks creative efficiencies, with the goal of making the most with the least.
Founded by David Brininstool and Brad Lynch in 1989, Brininstool + Lynch is the recipient of more than 50 major design awards, including AIA Chicago Firm of the Year, 29 AIA Design Excellence Awards, four American Architecture Awards, and the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices honor.