Rising Standards - Design Bureau

Hover House 3

Hover House 3

Hover House 3

Hover House 1

Hover House 1

Hover House 1

Hover House 1

Hover House 2

Hover House 2

Hover House 2

Hover House 2

Hover House 2

Rising Standards

Friday, June 10th, 2011

With large lots at a premium and a commitment to resource preservation on the rise, Glen Irani Architects has pioneered its own interpretation of elevated homes in coastal Southern California. The Hover Houses are a series of angular structures marked by natural outdoor living areas, streamlined square-footage and an elevated building envelope. “[The Hover House] was really just a practical solution for living in a healthier way in this environment,” says principal designer Glen Irani of the impetus for his first Hover House, a 3,500-square-foot live-work space for his family.

Irani explains that while elevated home structures may seem novel in Western construction, they have been built in the South Pacific, Mexico and Central America for centuries. Irani’s interest in nature stems from his childhood years, when he spent his days camping and playing in reservoirs, creeks and brush outside the heart of Hollywood, CA. He knew when he formed his own firm in 1995 that a respect for nature and dialogue on community would be key focuses for his practice. “People are so isolated in their interior environment,” he says. “[They] have got so much going on inside and so much autonomy that there’s little reason [for them] to engage their communities, much less the rest of the world. I’ve always felt that, as an architect, I could help heal that.”

How far are [you] willing to stretch your personal vision to create an environment that substantially improves your life?

The idea behind his design was not so much to simply create outdoor space, but to create continuous outdoor space on lots as slim as 30 feet by 95 feet. In Hover House 2—the largest of the series at 4,000 square-feet on a snug lot of 60 feet by 140 feet—the structure is masked along the long lot line so that every single room opens up to the backyard garden. The house lives up to its name by hovering over an outdoor living space which boasts a fireplace and heated slabs to accommodate for SoCal’s occasionally less-than-perfect weather.

So far, Irani’s clients haven’t been willing to completely forgo an indoor living space for an exterior one; however, they have been willing to downsize in the name of efficiency. Hover House 3, the most markedly elevated of the series, features 560 square-feet of exterior living space throughout three levels, in addition to a well-appointed 2,300-square-foot interior envelope. If the opportunity presents itself, Irani is happy to be involved in the interior design process as well, taking potential furnishings into careful consideration in the plans. To him, a couch that is one foot too long could devour an otherwise ample space. “We like to think of [the houses] almost like big yachts,” he says, “everything has to fit and function efficiently in a very confined space.”

Irani’s homes not only save their inhabitants money and conserve resources , but all of the residents have seized the opportunity to foster a connection with their surrounding neighborhood. In each Venice Hover House lives a family that is active within the Venice Canals community, which Irani refers to as “really just a pedestrian park.” “Anything that brings people together makes me feel like I’ve done something right.” The architect acknowledges that there will be clients who are not ready to embark on the sustainable journey of living in a Hover House, but he says, “Nothing is going to change in our profession unless we educate.” He urges people to be less concerned with the current cultural frenzy of trying to be as stylistically different with rare materials and expensive construction. “The question I would pose to developers and those who want to build their own home is: how far are [you] willing to stretch your personal vision  to create an environment that substantially improves your life?”

Text by Caitlin M. Ryan

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