brooks + scarpa: yin-yang house balances performance and aesthetics
brooks + scarpa: yin-yang house balances performance and aesthetics brooks + scarpa: yin-yang house balances performance and aesthetics
jun 15, 2013

brooks + scarpa: yin-yang house balances performance and aesthetics

‘yin-yang house’ by brooks + scarpa, venice, california, united states
image © john linden
all images courtesy of brooks + scarpa




in a quiet neighborhood of venice, california, the yin-yang house gives it’s owners – an accomplished chef and his family – a dynamic living space strongly connected to the outdoors that has yet to produce an energy bill after almost a year of habitation.designed by local practice brooks + scarpa on a rectangular footprint, the solid exterior of the home that faces the street conceals a rather open series of spaces facing the private exterior gardens of the residence. open-air courtyards and verandas emphasize a space mace for entertaining various sizes of groups for a range of activities, with the large open kitchen at the heart of the project. bedrooms are kept relatively modest in terms of scale and detail, making them secondary functions to the larger social areas. the organization of the home is such that the different sections of the program can be compartmentalized and still contain the possibility of a visual connection. the kids can play outdoors while the parents watch comfortably from the inside; inversely the parents may host a group of people without disturbing the children in any way. the formal proportions of the construction play a significant role as well in the organization of volumes. two linear masses are stacked upon one another perpendicularly which forms between them the exterior spaces. in order to maintain a subtle scale, the steps leading up to the bedrooms are designed as an optical illusion, projecting the idea of a one-story home until a human scale is placed inside and the true dimensions are made evident.


apart from the successful design aesthetic and spatial development of the home, intelligent energy systems work together to create a net-zero construct that is proving to be entirely self sufficient. all the materials used are completely recycled, from the bamboo interiors to  the composite stone and tile counter tops. a green roof creates a small garden and benefits from natural insulation, whereas the rest of the house is insulated with high performance cellulose. a 12kW solar array, the largest made for residential purposes, provides all the energy requirements of the house and is arranged so that it also passively shades the bedrooms. large operable windows allow the spaces to be naturally ventilated and radiant heating efficiently controls the interior temperatures.



image © john linden



image © john linden



central courtyard open to the kitchen
image © john linden



view into the kitchen area
image © john linden



stairs  leading to the bedrooms
image © john linden



shading roof with solar panels
image © john linden



exterior veranda to the bedrooms
image © john linden



image © john linden



open dining area
image © john linden



kitchen space
image © john linden



master bedroom and connecting hallway
image © john linden






project info:



total square footage: 4200 sq. ft. 
total cost: $1.7 mil
completed: 2011
architects: brooks + scarpa
project team: lawrence scarpa, faia – lead designer, principal-in-charge; ching luk, senior designer, emily hodgdon, aia
general contractor: glenn lyons construction 
structural engineer: charles tan
landscape architect: z. freedman landscape design
solar panels: m & m solar

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