Olson Kundig Architects' Elemental Montecito Residence

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Designed by Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects, the Montecito Residence is a work of high contrast: a single-family home set in the fire-prone area of Toro Canyon in Santa Barbara County, California. Provoked by their surroundings, design lead Tom Kundig and his team selected building materials to withstand the landscape’s potential harshness.

From HGTV, “The intricate system of rolling steel shutters and glass garage doors are designed to lock the house down in the event of a wildfire. Able to withstand temperatures of up to 1,600 degrees for a short period of time, it could protect the home and its inhabitants just long enough for the fire department to arrive.

At the same time, the house is a work of high energy. The raised roof functions as an umbrella, protecting the house from intense sun; the long hallway circulates cool offshore breezes that flow throughout the space.

The Montecito Residence has a kindred building: the Vitra Fire Station, which is part of the factory campus of Swiss designer furniture manufacturer Vitra, located in Weil am Rhein, Germany. It was designed by Architect Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in its 26-year history. The layered linear form of the Fire Station shares a similar structural quality to its fire-resistant counterpart in California.

I visited the Vitra Fire Station and recall its dynamic composition.

The Montecito Residence’s composition is dynamic from the outside in. Neither building shies away from the dramatic nature of their respective locations. They seize it.

Source of images of Montecito Residence is the group of great photographers who worked on projects of Olson Kundig Architects; Photograph of Vitra Fire Station by Christian Richter.

Nate Burgos

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