Anonymous Architects embeds concrete house into Los Angeles hillside

Olancha Drive

Local studio Anonymous Architects has completed a residence with a concrete plinth that cantilevers off a mountainside in Los Angeles.

The Olancha Drive house was finished in 2022 in the Mount Washington district of Northeast Los Angeles. It was designed in response to the site’s steep angle – which reaches 45 degrees in some areas – and the views afforded by the vantage point.

The hillside parcel challenged the design team to limit the horizontal footprint – balancing the 1,000-square-foot (93 square metre) house on friction piles driven into the earth. The team, in turn, stacked the spaces top-down.

Californian house by Anonymous Architects
The Olancha Drive house cantilevers off a Californian mountainside

“The sequence of space and program is vertical not horizontal, which is an inversion of typical residential experience in California that blends inside and outside,” the Anonymous Architects team told Dezeen.

From the street, the house is appropriately “anonymous” and private.

The home’s garage is on the top floor, functioning like a large box truss wrapped in a screen of vertical grey wood. A tunnel-like staircase leads down to the “front yard” – which is a walkable roof terrace space, outlined by a black metal railing.

Living area of Californian cantilevering house
The one-bedroom house acts as one large room

Framed by V-shaped columns, a trapezoidal swimming pool is tucked under the cantilevered garage. Two square skylights in the deck open the main level to the sun.

The main level appears as a floating box wrapped in white metal and is connected to the hillside by a concrete mass.

Rectilinear hole revealing a swimming pool in the kitchen
A trapezoidal swimming pool is tucked under the cantilevered garage

“By using only steel and concrete, the construction methods and materials are related more closely to commercial building instead of typical residential wood construction,” the team explained, choosing to expose the structure, as well as essential electrical and plumbing infrastructure, as a visual component for the interior design.

The living spaces of the one-bedroom house act as one large room with moveable partitions and sliding doors dividing the public areas from the bedroom and media room. A wall of folding glass doors opens the interiors to a balcony that runs the length of the house.

Bedroom of Olancha Drive
All of the spaces are oriented toward the Los Angeles skyline

Since the home has no side windows, all of the spaces are oriented toward the Los Angeles skyline.

While accessed from above, the pool becomes the focal point of the main level with a window from the kitchen into the water. The window brings light into the interiors and breaks up the solid concrete wall.

“Adding a window allowed the pool to become a feature even when it was not being used for recreation, playing into the desire for elements of the house to be dual-purpose,” the team said.

“Dual-purpose elements are very important in small spaces. If elements of the design can perform multiple functions, then the space will feel larger because it is capable of doing more.”

The soft furnishings and fabrics designate a colour for each space

The raw structural elements were offset by natural wood walls and cabinets and white oak panels that are “plain sliced to give the wood a more organic quality.”

Selected by Sarah Rosenhaus Interior Design, the soft furnishings and fabrics designate a colour for each space and add warmth and texture.

The basement level contains barrels for rainwater collection.

Anonymous Architects designed the house in Los Angeles

Nearby, Anonymous Architects cantilevered another house off a hillside, but the studio also encircled a mature cypress tree with the bedroom and wrapped the home with cedar. In Mexico, architecture studio LBR&A cantilevered a steel-clad house to minimise the impact on the landscape.

The photography is by Taiyo Wantanabe and Marcia Prentice.

Project credits:

Architecture: Anonymous Architects
Interior design: Sarah Rosenhaus Interior Design

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