The story of this design began with two objects the owners found while walking along the beach and three inspirational words: modern, coastal, and sanctuary.

Global Design & Architecture Design Awards 2023
Third Award | Private Residence (Large) (Built)

Project Name: The Beach House
Category: Private Residence (Large) (Built)
Studio Name: Rockefeller Kempel Architects
Design Team:
Architect: Christopher Kempel, AIA – Rockefeller Kempel Architects
Area: 9,792 SQ FT
Year: 2022
Location: Manhattan Beach, CA
Structural Engineer- Paniagua Inc. – Cristobal Paniagua
Land Surveyor – Denn Engineers – Gary J. Roehl
Landscape Engineer- Graham Stanley & Associates, Inc. – Graham Stanley
Lighting – KGM Architectural Lighting – Dave McCarroll
Contractor – Wilson Construction – Jeff Wilson
Interior Designer – Tim Clarke Design – Tim Clarke Design
Photography Credits: Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

The Beach House | Rockefeller Kempel Architects - Sheet3
©Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

Perched on a hilltop in a coastal neighborhood with ocean views to its west and city views to the east, this residence reflects its owner’s appreciation for clean lines, visual simplicity, and quiet surprises.

Given these two found objects and their design inspiration words, we interpreted them accordingly:

Modern – form: a modern interpretation of a beach shack with a pitched roof and a simplified expression of punched openings.

Coastal – material: a soft palette of light natural stone and wood reflecting the smooth gray beach stone and aged driftwood.

Sanctuary – daylight, flow, and scale: a living environment with plentiful natural daylight and open, connected, differentiated spaces. A place quietly sensitive to the human scale and thoughtfully considered from the public view using architectural and landscape design moves.

The Beach House | Rockefeller Kempel Architects - Sheet4
©Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

“We don’t want the house to feel dark.”

The design is organized around a central glass entry hall. It, along with abundant skylights and large windows and doors, allows natural daylight to spill in. The two-story volume also announces the main entry and showcases the home’s monumental stairs.

The family is fully engaged with the community and entertains. Creating a strong sense of inside-out living and taking full advantage of the property was essential.

The Beach House | Rockefeller Kempel Architects - Sheet5
©Eric Staudenmaier, Eric Staudenmaier Photography

In addition to daylighting and passive cooling through the thermal chimney effect of the glass hall, the house uses a sizable geothermal system and PV array to minimize its environmental impact greatly.

This is a place for a large family to thrive, a sanctuary to feel safe and connected with each other and their natural surroundings. Although not on the beach, it’s a place to feel that same “beach” feeling while at home.