Henbest Residence by Robert Sweet

Henbest Residence by Robert Sweet

Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, California, USA
Year: 2011
Photo courtesy: Chang Kyun Kim

Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles known for it’s expansive views of the pacific ocean, the Henbest House is a rejuvenation of a California classic. The existing structure was built in 1966 and originally designed by the iconic mid-century modern Architect Pierre Koenig, who is most notable for his case study houses.


The new design upgrades the building envelope, MEPs, updates finishes and gently renovates and expands the floor plan to accommodate the current owners program, while paying special attention to respect the homes architectural roots.


Originally one arrived at the interior of the house via an exterior walkway which circumnavigated a courtyard. The entry path was flanked on either side by a 10′ tall wall, physically separating it from the courtyard. The new design removes this separation and incorporates the courtyard into the entry sequence.


A dilapidated perimeter wall is repaired and surfaced with ipe wood siding which meets the areas current fire code. A new board formed concrete wall is offset from the ipe wall, creating a layered opening into the courtyard. A new swimming pool which was inspired by Koenig’s original site plan, but never realized replaces a koi pond and pergola that were added later and not part of Pierre’s design. The swimming pool overflows into a shallow reflecting pool which serves as a moat for the entry path that leads to the interior.


Walls are removed to provide greater views throughout the house towards the Pacific Ocean. A compartmentalized kitchen and service core are gutted to create an open kitchen / dining / living space. The master suite is expanded, replacing a small enclosed patio for livable square footage. A new guest wing is added, connecting the once detached garage to the main house. All of the fenestration is upgraded to meet current standards including new, fully retractable multi-panel sliding glass walls. When completely open the house becomes a pavilion, truly blurring the indoor / outdoor boundary that exemplifies California modern.

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