Larry Scarpa grew up in Florida, where the heat and humidity kept him indoors. “In Southern California, however, living outside is easy to do,” says the architect, whose firm Brooks + Scarpa is based in Los Angeles. “Now I can’t get away from imposing my desire on others.” Recent beneficiaries of his imposition include a couple whose young children are friends with Scarpa’s son. The family was living on a cramped lot on one of the canals in nearby Venice, but they gave up this otherwise desirable waterfront location for a Scarpa-designed, net zero energy, 4,700-square-foot house and roomy backyard elsewhere in the seaside district.
The bedrooms exit onto a bamboo deck and bleacher stairs, allowing children to bypass the rest of the house on their way inside or out. “I know from having a young kid of my own that you’re always screaming, ‘Inside or outside!’” says Scarpa. To visually unify the house, the architect defined horizontal and vertical edges with a steel band that winds without interruption around the exterior. “It pulls all the pieces together, a continuous squiggle,” says Scarpa.