Project: OZ House
Architects: Stanley Saitowitz
Location: Atherton, California, USA
Area: 17,000 sq ft
Photographs by: Bruce Damonte
OZ House by Stanley Saitowitz
The OZ House is a contemporary residence designed by Stanley Saitowitz on a hill in Atherton, California. This 17,000 square foot complex is positioned in a way to provide stellar views of San Francisco (about 25 miles to the north of it). The architect used the iPhone as a comparison with their design. The OZ House is deceptively simple-looking with a minimalist exterior that obscures more than a great deal of complexity.
The facades along the street are almost entirely opaque while the ones facing the landscaped property are entirely glazed. The architects have composed the OZ House out of two L-shaped structures that overlap around a central courtyard. The aesthetic exterior of the home was realized through an integrated composite of systems that apply to the structure, but let’s read what the architects have to say about this in their own words below.
The site is a hilltop, accessed via a winding mountainous drive, ending in a circular cul de sac. Once on the site, views in other directions unfold, and in the distance the skyline of San Francisco appears.
L shaped bars of space lace the site measuring the topography without interrupting the terrain, like cartography, describing the site. On the side facing the cul de sac and neighbors, the bars are solid and concrete, on the side opening to the views, glass and open.
These L shapes bars balance on top of each other creating courts and overhangs, defining indoor and outdoor spaces with bridges and cantilevers.
Services are solid elements which comb the space with walls of mechanism and storage floating within the open lines of the bars.
The basement is for family play and casual entertaining opening to a large grassed area. A light court carved into the ground illuminates the other side of the L. Above is the main level for formal entertaining which cantilevers over the basement and looks to the city view. Dining, kitchen and family areas are in the other leg of the L, where stairs go up to the bedroom L, inverted and floating above. The leg facing the city view is the master, cantilevered over the wing below creating an outdoor room, the other leg are four children’s suites, connected by an office, sitting area and laundry bridging a void below.
The bars open to different directions of the hilltop, with views of treetops, the bay and the city.
The building threads and weaves, making holes in things, or making things that make holes in things that are not. The bars twist and fold, cross and loop, bridge and divide. At the intersections are vertical connections. These abstract geologies do not impose, but expose, expanding the realm of space and diminishing the role of form.
The interest is in transparency and lightness contrasted with solidity and mass, folding on themselves, slipping and sliding through space as they frame and connect.