King Residence / John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects


Architects: John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects
Location: Santa Monica, CA,
Contractor: Anthony Bonomo
Project Area: 316 sqm
Photographs: Benny Chan, Fotoworks

6-Porch 9-Living 3-Street 17-Master

The King Residence is a 4,300 square foot single family residence located in the Sunset Park section of Santa Monica, a neighborhood originally developed to house workers from the World War II era McDonnell Douglas Airplane Factory. About one mile from the beach, the structure houses Matt and Erin King and their two children.

Situated on a gently sloping, wedge-shaped corner lot, the design rejects the standard public front yard/private backyard typology, opting instead for a structure whose living spaces and bedrooms open onto a relatively large exterior patio/garden/entryway that faces the public streets and surrounding houses. While this arrangement puts much of the family’s communal and individual life on display, this is a positive feature for the Kings. The children delight in calling to their friends on the street, especially from their bedrooms and the large open-air “living room,” all on the second floor, while Matt and Erin enjoy an overall heightened sense of neighborliness – friends and neighbors (and even strangers) drop in at all times. The house’s blurring of public/private boundaries (beyond the typical indoor/outdoor kind) reinforces the sense of community that they embrace and encourage.

2-Across Street

While the house’s formal design facilitates this more open relationship with the surrounding community, it also acknowledges that there is some tension between the public and private character of what, in the end, is this family’s home. Read in a more volumetric way, the house can be seen as a solid mass in which one corner has been carved away, revealing the house’s inner life and creating the main patio, around which the resulting “L” shape is organized. But the structure can also be seen as series of vertical and horizontal planes, and according to this interpretation, one can see that the house’s green and white cement board walls, inflected in towards the site, have a sheltering, privatizing quality. Similarly, the roof of the dining and “hangout” wing, angled down to follow the gentle slope of the site, anchors the structure and its inhabitants to the earth – and to each other.

site plan
site plan

These formal qualities also help the house fit well into its surroundings. By responding to the street corner with a void, instead of a volume, and setting the house towards the rear of the site, the house does not crowd the neighborhood – it exudes a sense of politeness, of generosity. This quality is reinforced by its composition of overlapping planes and layers, which break up its mass and project a sense of permeability; from down the street, one can even see straight through the house. These intentions carry through to the strategies for cladding the house, the best example being the way in which the two-toned cement board pattern, echoing the character of leaves on nearby trees, helps to dematerialize the structure. The wood screens have a similar effect.


Both inside and outside, the house’s design manages to be both serious as well as casual – to create the conditions for a flexible, open, communally-oriented lifestyle, while at the same time employing a refined palette of materials and details. The generous use of natural light activates the house and creates excellent lighting for the family’s art collection. A number of sustainable features are also incorporated. For the Kings, the house functions perfectly for their individual and collective lifestyles, and embodies the values in which they believe.

Cite: "King Residence / John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects" 08 Nov 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • archilocus

    Seems neat excepted for all the things they plugged in the ceiling.
    Otherwise I’m not fond of this kinf of overcomplicated architecture for a rather simple typology.

    • proof200

      Agreed. There seems to be a tendency these days in residential architecture to create buildings want to use the same design approach of large scale buildings on a much smaller scale… this seldom works and very frequently results in a project that has too much architectural “noise”. This building is ok but its trying too hard to be something its not.

      • cad

        They’re lights, vents and smoke detectors all are required
        by building code. Santa Monica is one of the strictest, need to pass 5 different departments just for residential.

  • Dariusz

    should designers not be bold then? This is nice.. I can see this concept came from folding. and it works for me..why can’t small projects have big ideas anyways?

    • archilocus

      Don’t misunderstand what proof200 or I said, it is not about giving or not giving big ideas to a small project. This house just lack the simplicity that should be resulting from a program of 4 bedrooms, bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen, no matter the concept. And honestly folding is not a concept, it’s folding. It doesn’t make any concept at all. And there are probably here more ideas than just “folding”, but the vision is so much disturbed by the additional noise of layers of different architectural vocabulary (different stair languages, the shape, the fancy pattern, pure white japanese style, etc.) that we cannot read a thing anymore.

      • stelina

        I would like to see a diagram of the house, which would perhaps explain it better- photos often distort the logic and intent.

        and clearly, “archilocus” is not at all familiar with the theoretical discussion of the fold that has occupied a prominent space in architectural discussions, work and writing for at least two decades now.

        please do your homework before posting such ignorant and nonsensical comments.

      • archilocus

        Thanks Stelina for setting me straight with such a scornful and haughty comment.
        About folding, may you accept that i disagree with you? The folding of Van Berkel, Moussavi or other Lynn-like architects has nothing for me to do with architectural concepts, and i think we’re quite far here to a philosophical discussion from Deleuze.
        To go back to the topic, I’d like to appreciate a house for itself, not through any kind of theoretical argument like the one you seem to be liking, and which seems to make you forget to be polite.

      • stelina

        If you can, instead of just naming obvious names, sum up a solid argument as to why folding is not an architectural concept, how the whole theoretical discussion around it is useless and irrelevant and how all the built examples have not enhanced and furthered the architectural discourse, I will be willing to listen and argue further.

        Simply saying “it has nothing for me to do with architectural concepts” is an opinion, and everyone has one today. Frankly, opinions are not productive, and they matter little unless you can persuade me as to why I should care to think about yours.

        Being polite also means being honest, and I was simply being honest.

      • archilocus

        We’ll definitely not agree then.
        I don’t think comments are the place for essays, and I don’t think I have to try to explain why this has little or nothing to do with folding. Probably depends on how you and I understand the word “concept”.
        I would have preferred you to explain your point of view rather than posting such non constructive comments.
        The thing is as smart as you want to seem to be, we’ve learnt nothing from you while “cad” gave an interesting point about fire regulations in Santa Monica.
        And if for you opinions are not productive, then better not read comments, you’ll save your time and mine.

  • oscar falcón lara

    This house is indeed a boldly designed one and merits admiration. Great in every aspect, it may not please everyone, but it’s great. ( and it is built, it pleases the most important person: the owners )

    • cad

      Unless you’re Thom Mayne, the owners are always right.

  • Adrem

    Despite being such a gigantic mansion, the whole thing manages to look ultra-cheap, obviously IMHO.