Lawrence Scarpa and Angela Brooks are architects and co-principals in a Santa Monica design firm where exploring new technologies is a daily practice. When it came time to build a home for themselves, they were eager to see how far they could go in applying their green-design know-how in their everyday lives.
A built-in sofa with Design Tex upholstery marks the boundary between the two-level addition and the bungalow. Leading up to the master bedroom, a perforated metal staircase, lit from above, casts a Sigmar Polke–like shadow grid on the concrete floor.
The living room of the Gund house, designed by Don Hisaka, is a large, open space whose biggest architectural move is a curving staircase. Otherwise the trees that Hisaka managed to preserve afford the home much of its privacy. Photo courtesy of Thom Abel.
Torres Moskovitz designed custom stainless steel recessed boxes, fitted with LED strip lighting, for the stair landings for this Brooklyn Passive House.
A family selected a difficult site—a steep hillside with 45° grade—for their new house in an affluent Mexico City suburb. While many nearby residents pay large sums to alter the landscape, the architecture firm Materia Arquitectónica had a radically different solution: place the main entrance atop the house and invert the ground floor-up progression of most homes.
At the base of the first floor landing, black recinto volcanic stones divide the first floor’s informal dining area from the living room. This floor also features a bedroom and kitchen while the floor above holds a master bedroom, master bath, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an entertainment room, and patio. The stairs—which are all-oak—descend to a ground-floor playroom and outdoor deck.
Case Study architect Edward Killingsworth’s masterpiece, the 1957 Opdahl House, fell into ruin, but thanks to a musician with a passion for modernism, it celebrated its 50th anniversary in mint condition. Below a twisting steel staircase sits a stool from the impossibly rare 1967 Girard Group for Herman Miller (it was only produced for one year). Stevens rennovated the home from top to bottom, including the Japanese-style fence in the garden.
The main staircase of Walter Gropius' Hagerty House consists of simple oak treads that cantilever out from side walls sheathed in natural vertical board and are supported on the other side by a continuous grill-like railing truss.