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  5. XTEN Architecture
  6. 2009
  7. Diamond House / XTEN Architecture

Diamond House / XTEN Architecture

  • 01:00 - 1 February, 2010
Diamond House / XTEN Architecture
Diamond House / XTEN Architecture, © Art Gray Photography
© Art Gray Photography

© Art Gray Photography © Art Gray Photography © Art Gray Photography © Art Gray Photography +14

  • Architects

  • Location

    Santa Monica, California, United States
  • Architects In Charge

    Monika Haefelfinger & Austin Kelly (AIA, LEED AP)
  • Landscaping/ Site Pieces

    Mark Motonaga
  • Client

    Aisha Ayers
  • Area

    820.0 sqm
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

From the architect. The Diamondhouse is a sound studio and office extension to a house located deep in a canyon, against a severely sloping hillside, with minimal access and little space upon which to build. Direct sunlight reaches the site for only a few hours a day. The geotechnical condition is challenging, requiring 30-foot caissons to underpin new walls and foundations. A complex web of regulations governed the height, width, depth and specific relationship to the retaining walls needed to build the project.

Section © XTEN Architecture
Section © XTEN Architecture

Given these constraints, a multifaceted architectural strategy was developed for the small building. First, a base building geometry was developed to conform to the hillside and required codes while maximizing the interior spaces by extending them into adjacent sideyards. Like a rock placed in a small pond, the addition is carefully placed between the existing structure and an imposing hillside to inflect the landscape and create exterior programmatic spaces around it where none could exist before. The building geometry also conforms to the interior program as a corner of the upper floor flares out to accommodate a writing desk built into a north-facing window and a series of wall planes fold up and over the building to create a rooftop railing and enclosure.

© Art Gray Photography
© Art Gray Photography

Next, a building material system was developed to both relate the new extension to the natural landscape and to reduce the visual scale of the building. The façade pattern was created from natural elements taken from the canyon site; abstracted, scaled and arrayed across the building in 3d modeling programs. Many patterns, scales and patterns were investigated in this manner, from which several full size prototypes were made by laser cutting and cnc routing aluminum, zinc, steel, plywood and cement panel samples.

© Art Gray Photography
© Art Gray Photography

The 3/8” thick Swisspearl fiber cement panels shown on the final construction were selected for both the way they relate to the masonry site walls and original structure, and for the fragility they impart to the otherwise hard edged and programmatically driven geometry of the building. Daylight brings out the etched lines, irregular edges and delicate qualities of the cement panels, which in direct sunlight appear as thin as a ceramic vase. While in the evenings the panels become flattened and the overall volume emerges, appearing as a patterned and perforated lantern illuminating the canyon.

Volume diagram © XTEN Architecture
Volume diagram © XTEN Architecture
Cite: "Diamond House / XTEN Architecture" 01 Feb 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
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Lancko Doors · November 12, 2011

Diamond House / XTEN Architecture Modern Home Modern Doors via @archdaily

Davide Romeo · September 08, 2011

Diamond House / XTEN Architecture | ArchDaily via @archdaily

Alkaid · February 04, 2010

RT @NicholasPatten: I&#39d Live Here: Diamond House.

Nicholas Patten · February 04, 2010

I&#39d Live Here: Diamond House.

Michael Baugus · February 03, 2010

Provocative exterior. Diamond House / XTEN Architecture.

reger · February 03, 2010

Jean Nouvel Xs.

brandy · February 02, 2010

I happened upon this bldg at a holiday party and mostly disagree with the comments above.  Nothing prepares you for the surprise of this structure tucked behind a traditional looking house in a woodsy canyon neighborhood.  In person it feels like a piece of sculpture that's been compressed between the house and some huge concrete hillside walls.  It doesn't appear 'wrapped' with wallpaper -- it doesn't feel 2 dimensional in any sense.  As an artist I appreciate how the indeterminate edges play against the regular pattern geometry and how the thickness of the walls is shown at windows.  It's put together well.  The differences between the inner and outer walls could have been exploited more -- Henry Moore's helmet series comes to mind --but the pattern as a scalar device works amazingly well in it's setting.

Fabiola Johann Braun · February 02, 2010

#design #arch RT @archdaily Diamond House / XTEN Architecture

jr · February 02, 2010
Haily Zaki · February 02, 2010

Sexy skin: RT @archdaily: Diamond House / XTEN Architecture

lia henriques · February 02, 2010

Diamond House / XTEN Architecture | ArchDaily: via @addthis

Kevin Parent · February 02, 2010

RT @archdaily: Diamond House / XTEN Architecture

Home Decor News · February 02, 2010

Diamond House / XTEN Architecture

phishfood the architect · February 02, 2010

Glad to see the Louis vuitton comment posted.

its interesting that architecture was pushed away from the decorative skin and now we are returning to it. wrapping paper my be interesting but is it really architecture?

derek · February 02, 2010

and not one picture that offers perspective on how this truly juxtaposes/ineteracts/plays against the original house. i think it speaks to the project's lack of depth that we're expected to find it's skin and a simple distortion of the cube to be the whole trick.

cad · February 02, 2010

From all the extensive research all they got was a Louis Vuitton

Adrian · February 02, 2010

Looks like louis vuitton's House!

LOME · February 01, 2010

Nice Pattern!But the building geometry is not "strong"! that's my point. ^.^

mark · February 01, 2010


How is the waterproofing membrane protected from UV if the skin is perforated?

Jeison · February 01, 2010


giglog · February 01, 2010

Look at the details (for example the edges). Absolutely inacceptable.

stanley · February 01, 2010

Maybe 2 years ago, but now I really can't be amazed by another skin. The shape is ok, nothing spectacular either. There is not strong idea, to make that kind of block.

chenlu98 · February 01, 2010

The skin is much like art of paper cut.
It can not move me at all.


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© Art Gray Photography

Diamond House