Architects: XTEN Architecture
Location: La Quinta, California, USA
Area: 10,650 sqm
Photographs: Steve King, Art Gray, Jeremy Bittermann
The Madisonhouse is perched on a knoll in La Quinta, California, near Palm Springs. In order to shelter the house from extreme desert conditions, the massing and materiality are configured to protect against the sun and strong Northerly winds. Concurrently the house opens completely along an East-West axis culminating in a spectacular indoor-outdoor living space with full height glass walls that slide away to embrace the desert landscape, light and mountain views.
The project was conceived as a series of freestanding volumes set beneath and between projecting horizontal slabs. These freestanding volumes in stone, concrete and oak are spaced and configured to create the different scales of indoor-outdoor space that flow between them.
To the South a large volume containing service spaces buffers the house against the solar gain, and opens to the courtyard, the kitchen area and at both ends. To the North a volume containing bedrooms creates a windbreak to severe winds that can reach 100mph. These volumes frame a courtyard, the main entry gates and a series of glass pivot doors, the main entry to the house.
An East-West shift in these volumes creates the space for an open kitchen/ dining/ living area that expands laterally across the entire West elevation. This is the main space of the house and it opens completely to the landscape. Glass doors on three sides pivot and slide away and disappear into hidden wall slots. The terrazzo floors and white plaster ceiling extend the space horizontally out the landscape. Separate secondary volumes – a stone fireplace, a dark oak kitchen, a 30-foot long wood and marble island, an oak cabinet and floating cast terrazzo stairs — anchor the space and conceal all the structure and systems required for the large spans and cantilevers.
A partial second story bridges the lower volumes and contains the master bedroom suite and an outdoor terrace/ fireplace area. The spaces on this floor are also configured with strong volumetric, solid/void relationships to create a free flowing indoor-outdoor series of spaces opening to the landscape.
While the plan is rational and orthogonal, one traverses the space obliquely, with dynamic diagonal views between the volumes opening space in multiple directions. The volumes mark the space but do not define it, allowing the landscape to become an integral and dynamic part of the house.