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Bold and colorful solution to a tough-lot challenge.

Squeeze the state of Nevada from east and west, and you would get the odd shape of the lot occupied by the house pictured here. Challenged to design within this irregular wedge, Santa Barbara architect Mark Kirkhart of DesignArc devised a walled compound with boldly geometric structures.

The lot, in a 1920s subdivision, originally belonged to the neighboring property to the west. But its owners sold this wedge, bearing overgrown gardens and a garage, along with an easement that allows use of the now-shared driveway.

After clearing the lot, Kirkhart began a budget-conscious three-phase project. First came a 16- by 22-foot guest house, which the Kirkharts occupied while work continued on phase two-the 1,950-square-foot main house, lap pool, patios, and perimeter walls. (Phase three will be a family room addition.)

Kirkhart's design combines the cubist simplicity of Bauhaus architecture with the intense hues used by such famous Mexican architects as Luis Barragan.

A flagstone entry walk forms an axis from the street, leading through a door in the perimeter wall, across the garden, and on inside the main house's front door. By siting the house at the rear of the property, Kirkhart was able to orient a 16- by 40-foot south-facing wall of thermal glass toward the garden. This is a bearing wall, with a notched-together framework of laminated posts and beams. Mexican terra cotta floor tiles finished with two coats of clear mat sealer) hold and reradiate the warmth of winter sun. In summer, the sun's high angle (and a retractable awning) keep heat buildup from being a problem. Windows on the bottom row open to admit breezes.

The main volume of the interior is a two-story living-dining space partitioned by the fireplace wall. Behind the dining area is a single-story kitchen; eventually, it will expand into a family room, which will wrap around the fireplace wall and connect with the living room.

Stairs lead to a balcony with a small bedroom and bath at one end. At the other, the entry to the master suite has a built-in desk overlooking the dining room and the garden. A closet-lined corridor links master bedroom and bath. Glass doors open the suite to a small terrace, and outside stairs descend to the pool. Kirkhart made the guest house a miniature variation on the house. In place of the 2-foot-square skylights and exposed 4-by-10 ceiling 10 beams used in the house, he installed foot-square skylights and 4-by-6 beams. A loft, reached by a stair-ladder, serves as storage space.

Kirkhart relocated the site's native sandstone boulders to create landscape focal points. He installed a 10- by 50-foot pool (wide enough for two people to swim laps), divided from its spa by the flagstone walk, which looks like a bridge over one continuous stretch of water. The patio between pool and house is a sunny heat sink, protected in winter from the prevailing north winds by the house itself.
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Title Annotation:house design
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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