Surfhouse / XTEN Architecture

Architects: XTEN Architecture
Location: Manhattan Beach, ,
Principals: Monika Haefelfinger & Austin Kelly, AIA
Client: Jennifer & Nick Hall
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Art Gray Photography

The Surfhouse appears as an abstract block of ebonized cedar a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Hermosa Beach. The site is very small. While typical lots in the area measure 120′ x 40′, the allowable building area for the Surfhouse measures just 33′ x 24′. The architects approached the project by subtracting the larger program areas from a solid volumetric form that conformed to the zoning regulations and sought to maximize space, light, and views while also creating a sense of privacy and retreat for the young owners on a busy beachside street.

The domestic program is stacked vertically on the lot. Services and bedrooms are on the lower floors, with larger rooms pushed to the corners for light and views in multiple directions. The top floor and decks are completely open as continuous indoor / outdoor living spaces open to the beach and ocean. The facade is made from rough sawn, black stained cedar planks with volumetric openings at primary program spaces and a system of identical 2′ x 5′ casement windows arrayed across the secondary elevations for specific views and ventilation. The interior is all light and air, with bamboo floors and walls of glass that slide away to bring the beachside environment inside.

Cite: "Surfhouse / XTEN Architecture" 09 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Geert

    Looks nice, but doesn’t look that real. I wonder what kind of renderprogram they used.

  • Mike

    Geert, it’s already build =)


  • roadkill

    no doubt the best thing around the block… surf’s up

  • Geert

    Then it’s photoshopped and build very neat. The background is not right.

  • Mark

    I think it’s called triple cross processing or something like that. The image is made up of two photos taken with a tripod, each at a different exposure. The background and the foreground are then stitched together. This avoids overexposure of the sunny background and underexposure of the shaded foreground. Photographers may be able to explain this better.

  • Mark

    Sorry, name of process is something different, but method is correct.

  • hilldog3000

    Awesome pad #1 –

  • Geert

    Does this also include the same palmtrees coming up at both sides of the building?

  • Kim

    What are you talking about guys, this house is real, it’s already built.

    I really like it, it’s cool and not pretentious, very nice plan, and nice sections. It would be interesting to know the budget. I wonder what can of view one could have on the roof top. I actually though the slope on the ceiling was there because of a pool on the roof top…
    Would be nice to have BBQ on that terrasse…

  • Geert

    I forgot to mention that I also do like te building! I also believe it’s real ;) But I doubted the pictures a little. Sorry about that.

  • Mike

    Mark, that called HDR photos. Although these photos looks more like natural ones which made in the right daytime with a good camera.


  • Henrik

    I think Geert is right about the indoor pics though. The house may be built but the pics are from a renderprogram. Look at the picture of the surfboard and wetsuit. Then look at the picture before that. The palmtrees are exactly the same.

  • Manuel

    Nice – the patio looks like a real outdoor extension / room.

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  • Mark

    Notes from the photographer:

    “LOL….. this is too funny…. yes, the house is real. The photos were taken by me with my little old Canon 5D on a very sunny clear day this past summer. Nothing fancy, no rendering, , I just shot RAW files. NO special programs to sandwich exposures…( I wish I knew how to do all that!) I did not photoshop anything, I gave the Raw files to the architect , my good friend. Any enhancements would have been done by him, but to my knowledge , it is just a little “shadow/highlight” and some saturation, nothing too fancy…. the house is just black and white, and the day was quite clear, so the sky was very blue,so it did “pop” more than most houses I shoot…. I did strobe the interiors to capture the balance of inside to outside. I usually try to make it look natural , as I used to be an architectural lighting designer, in this case the architect may have chosen to use an exposure that was more “strobed” than another… not sure….I bracket a lot…. The house also did not have much furniture, so it does lend itself to a “rendering” look… The surfboard is real, it is mine…

    This was a very quick simple job ( I did not even have an assistant with me) of a cool little beach house…..I hope this puts minds at ease!!

    All the best, Art Gray”

  • Geert

    Haha, very nice! Good things are cleared up now. The house is very well built, which I like a lot. The strobe and the palmtrees are kind of misleading with the comparision to renders. Sorry that my (litlle bit provocative) guess was wrong in the beginning.

  • Preston

    Interesting. Its extremely clean and rational, but fun and playful at once. Me Rikey!

  • pol

    nice. the modern architecture can only be superior for one thing….purpouse of life….

  • LargoJax

    One of my favorite houses on this website! Great, functional design for beach living. I love the use of color inside and out, but wonder how the exterior will hold up in coastal conditions (salt reaction). Don’t know what was used for exterior treatment and cladding. Could anybody elaborate…?

  • Roland Suits

    Mmm…black pearl

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  • architecture

    Very good. I love the shape!

  •'Neill Bill Abong

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  • Rip Curl

    Hi there, I couldn’t see any means to email you, and so I really hope that you read this comment. I own a website covering ladies wetsuits, and thought you might like to swap links with me. I have submitted my email address in case you choose to get in touch. Thanks.

  • Ichibod

    While i do love the place, i was never really sure about that bedroom. Can’t you see easily into it off the street?

  • eduardo

    I jerk off to David Adjaye too!