Perched high up in the hills of Bel Air, SPF:architects’ Orum House is a bravado piece of residential form-making. Overseen by SPF:a's founder and design principal Zoltan E Pali, the design is luxurious in its use of space, helped by the contours of the site, the far-reaching views out across the Los Angeles basin and the unashamedly modern materials deployed throughout.
Set out across three levels, Orum House is planned in the form of three wings, with the accommodation running to an impressive 1,746sq m. This epic scale is effectively concealed by using the slope of the site; the main sleeping accommodation is raised up off the ground with a minimal, light-filled living area on the ground floor. The rest of the space is concealed within basement areas that are cut into the steep site.
From the entrance courtyard, two glazed wings — or “propeller blades” — sail off in either direction, cantilevered
out over the hillside to allow for views of the city beyond. The third wing is cantilevered out above the site and houses the master bed and bathroom on the top floor. The main living space is set immediately below it, with a further terrace nestling into the slope. There are spectacular city views: you can see everything from the Getty Center (where SPF:a renovated the original villa over a decade ago) to the towers of Downtown and the coast at Long Beach from the uppermost floors.
Function is effectively concealed. The ground floor level has garaging for five cars (with a further carport tucked away in the hillside) and the curved swimming pool echoes the sweep of the wings above it. There are a further four bedroom suites
on those glazed blades, with staff accommodation in the lower ground floor, alongside a gymnasium, spa, sauna, wine cellar and media room. Separate guest accommodation is located in an adjacent building, which is linked to the main house at basement level.
The device that unifies all spaces and levels is the generous central staircase, formed from glass and steel with limestone treads, making a triangular focal point at the geometric heart of the house. Materials have been chosen for simplicity and impact, with book-matched sheets of marble, frameless glass and limestone forming a crisp, clear natural backdrop to the interiors. The doors are made by Sky-Frame of Switzerland, with eight operated by motors, including the first powered curved entrance door the company had ever built. Low-energy glass is used throughout.
The house has been designed for easy West Coast living, an inside-outside vibe that lets light and air flow across the site. There are high ceilings and glazed walls, with plenty of space for the owner to throw parties and hold events, all of which can easily spill out on to the terraces thanks to the tall frameless sliding windows.
Materials have been chosen for simplicity and impact, with book-matched sheets of marble, frameless glass and limestone
Careful landscaping includes an underground tank for rainwater storage, two fire pits and an outdoor kitchen. The West Coast has long been a crucible of architectural innovation, pairing elegance with its extremely favourable climate and Orum House is certainly a bold contemporary statement that also integrates neatly into the surrounding landscape.