At first glance, the John Lautner Garcia house appears to be fairly simple with regards to its conceptual design. To the untrained eye, one can simply see an overarching roof structure with accommodation filling in the underbelly of the structure. However, at closer inspection, the structure has subtleties and surprises that showcase the elegant complexity common in Lautner’s work.
If you began your acquaintance with the house by entering at road level via the carport that is nestled high up under the roof, you would first be met by a large spiral staircase that descends into the structure and provides an entrance to both the private accommodation on one side of the house and the more public wing on the opposite side.
John Launtner designed the Garcia house to be propped up by two large V-shaped supports that anchor the house in the hills above La Cuesta Drive. Because of this, the house appears from the front to be floating just above the hillside undergrowth.
A terrace swells out from a circulatory area within the house and provides alternative entries to the living room and dining wing where the structure’s billowing effect is balanced by a slight tilt at the end of its curving roof.
A feeling of spaciousness that subtly dissipates from the house’s center is emphasized by a step drop which connects the living room to the dining room and loosely follows the line of the curved roof, which gradually squeezes down on the accommodation. A similar step drop can also be found leading to the master bedroom.
The vast, arching form of the steel roof piece was to become a trademark feature in Lautner’s later work. Following the Garcia house, the architect utilized the signature two-way curving concrete roof structures in his famous Silvertop and Elrod projects.
There is a lightness and sense of fun to this particular building. The simple structure is animated by the movement of the circulation, the rhythm of the design and the buildings elegantly glazed elevation. It comes as no surprise then, that the client who commissioned this work of suave intricacy was, in fact, a jazz musician.
(Photos via AD)