The client came to us with one of those left-over lots that builders found too difficult to deal with.  For us we didn’t blink an eye, it was a perfect challenge.  Here was a beautiful property in one of the US’s most beautiful cities Del Mar by the sea.  From high up it had a vast ocean view, but the lot was narrow and steep, that combined with the cities strict hillside ordinance limiting height and total amount of grading presented a lot of challenges.
Architects: Helm & Melacini Architects
Status: Built

Our solution was to work with the slope of the lot and do virtually no grading.  By placing the home high up on the property, the view was maximized.  A small internal courtyard gives the owners a private outdoor space with some view yet sheltered from the prevailing breezes.  The stepped-up design with open spaces means that nearly every room in the home takes advantage of the wonderful ocean view.

The absence of grading also meant a good cost savings.  Other features in the use of cost saving materials in the construction also provided additional cost savings.  Large sliding doors were used as windows eliminating the need for custom windows and an industrial fiber material was used for the curved roof providing both insulation and a pleasing texture for the ceiling and roof structure.  The home is of course highly insulated and the large overhangs provide shade from the summer sun while letting in the warmth of the winter sunshine, all adding up to a highly energy efficient home.

John Helm Architect
John is an architect from California who works with his Italian architect wife Luisa Melacini.  Their practice includes offices and projects in both the US and Italy.  He is a graduate of California Polytechnic University in California.  He is also a licensed general contractor and developer. His experience includes amusement parks, hotels, offices, medical facilities, homes, apartments, shopping centers, churches, schools and industrial buildings.  He has designed many ocean front, hillside and difficult lot homes, and is a specialist in energy efficiency and green design. He also works with alternative and prefabricated construction systems.