27 Feb A Linear Lighting Solution by (fer)studio

In the spirit of form, environments, and research, (fer)studio utilizes contemporary design in their architectural work to produce thought provoking spaces. What caught our eye on this property, is a unique linear skylight throughout the residence that adds a bright, open feel to this Santa Monica home. We spoke with President, Christopher Mercier, about the process behind this urban design.

(fer)studio stands for form, environment, and research. What does this mean in terms of design and how you approach a project?
It really is an attempt to define and explain what we do. The FORM – ation of unique contemporary Architectural and Urban ENVIRONMENTS, through a process of exploratory design RESEARCH, focused on new and positive organizational approaches to the occupation of Space. A little lengthy I know, working on that, but basically we are trying to create an Architecture that enhances an individual’s ability to not only function in the world efficiently and effectively but one that will also intellectually, emotionally and physically engage them in a positive dialogue with their surroundings through experience and interaction with the environment.

How would you describe the aesthetic of the Santa Monica Residence?
That’s a great question and one I find myself grappling with continually. Its basically a question that many people twist into, “what style of architecture is that?” which I am not sure is the right way to get at the real answer.  Anyway, I would describe it as the interplay of strong architectural massing and open voids, that through their cohesive and intermingled organization pattern, attempt to define and explore the relationship of dominate and residual spatial and programmatic relations using both interior and exterior space. They do this with an emphasis on trying to both present and explore, for the occupant, positive ideas about organizational behavior in relation to their own lives in the world today.

How were you able to come up with the concept of the linear skylight to allow for natural light to seep into the center of the house?
The client came to the conversation with the idea that the house should be light filled. This led to thinking about artist loft type spaces with skylights and how the light filters down into the lower floors. As a child growing up in typical two-story tract house I can remember the condition when someone was upstairs and they needed something. It was always this person at the top of the stairs yelling down to everyone and then people yelling back. Embarrassing right, but something many of us have experienced. Then as young adult I have lived in various two story artist lofts where there is always this great spatial connection between the upper loft and the lower floors that creates one larger room.  This is the idea we presented to the client in terms of the overall space of the house and this led as a natural progression to the long linear skylight concept.  Then the next move was in actually turning the skylight down vertically at the front façade so it continues as part of the façade as a front window element as well.

The second floor was offset to make room for the linear skylight to allow natural light in the center of the home. What were some of the challenges of this, architecturally?
Yes to allow this condition to occur we had to limit the width of the bedrooms on each side of the corridor. By doing this it created the extra space need for open cavity that connects the first and second floors. So there was some sacrifice on the clients end, they had to give up having slightly wider bedrooms to allow for this overall central light and loft type space condition. To me it was an easy decision as this small sacrifice made the overall house so much more liable as an experience.

You’ve said you “strive to combine environmental sensitivity and trend-setting vision in every project.” How was this residence able to complete that goal?
I think this harkens back to my early comments. The house we feel is super sensitive in its attempt to fit into the scale of the existing and developing urban fabric of the neighborhood. Many new and contemporary homes where there is this desire to maximize square footage opportunities end up becoming a bit monstrous when compared to their existing neighbors and stand out as sore thumbs if you will.  I think the scale of this house finds its way in between these differences and actually blends with both the existing and newer developing densities to fit comfortably from a scale perspective with its surroundings.

What’s next?
The next step for FER is really about growing the quality of services we provide through larger and more engaging and socially enriching projects. This translates into finding new clients (large and small) that are in need of architectural services and are looking for more than just a building solution.  They have the desire and urge to first and foremost solve their immediate space and organizational problem(s) but also have a strong desire, through the design process, to explore their own (or their company/organization) identity  and to consider alternate organizational platforms that help grow beyond their expectations.  Basically they want to consider and or re-think a more positive and inventive approach to how they operate spatially and possibly re-define their world through the physical relations and environments they occupy, they want to make Architecture.  What’s next for FER is meeting more clients who are looking for this.

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