The Malibu coastline north of Los Angeles is host to a curious architectural and urban condition. The Pacific Coast Highway moves traffic along at the foot of rugged topography, but it is separated from public beaches by a continuous strip of luxury houses. Regardless of how perfectly neo-Modernist or audaciously pseudo-Mediterranean these houses are, the buildings blend into one another and form a continuous, homogeneous band.

Not only does Malibu’s coastal condition generate aesthetic ennui, it has also drawn a line of confrontation between visitors to the public beaches and individual homeowners who are increasingly shoring up a sense of entitlement over the public beaches. With his Beach House, architect Michael Maltzan plans to break up the monotony and, as a consequence, defuse these confrontations. 

Raised up off the beach, the form of the house will be triangular in plan with an orthogonal neck along the street. Although simple, this formal gesture creates manifold benefits. By lifting the house’s main volume onto a podium, the architects achieve the impossible: the residents’ own private beach underneath the house, as well as creating space for two courtyards that flank the narrowing triangle. Raising the house also opens up a line of sight from the street to the beach and horizon, which can ease the tension created by an impenetrable wall of houses. Maltzan plans to use a translucent structural carbon fiber for this project. The $6.5 million Beach House is expected to be completed in 2009.


Michael Maltzan Architecture
2801 Hyperion  Avenue, Studio 107
Los Angeles, California 90027 
T 323 913 3098
F 323 913 5932

Principal-in-charge: Michael Maltzan, FAIA

Project Director: Tim Williams

Architect of record: Michael Maltzan Architecture

Associate architect: Michael Maltzan Architecture

Photo Credit: Michael Maltzan Architecture



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