Ellen Rockne, an accomplished singer and artist, and Brian Andreas, a talented writer and artist, owned a lush garden lot in a beautiful neighborhood near downtown Santa Barbara. Co-founders of an imaginative performance and storytelling company called Storypeople, the couple approached Kaufmann with a commitment to creating a cutting-edge, “fully green” home.
Ellen and Brian made a movie showing their existing lot, which contained an old studio structure and neighboring tower. “It was a great way for us to understand the site,” said Kaufmann, “we really wanted to play off the tower.” Due to existing conditions, site limitations, and the needs of the clients, Kaufmann designed a custom, three-bedroom-plus-studio. One side of the home became a two-story structure, and the one-story side took the neighboring tower as its background, blending and connecting the new with the old.
The owners chose to “deconstruct” the existing home/studio. Deconstruction, an alternative to demolition, involves taking a structure apart by hand and salvaging as many of the pieces as possible –which creates less waste in landfills. Just before the deconstruction, the ever-creative Rockne-Andreas’ gathered friends and neighbors for a “graffiti party,” where everyone lavishly painted the interior and exterior of the soon-to-be-deconstructed home. (show photos)
While Ellen and Brian loved modern lines and warm materials, they are also thoughtful neighbors who wanted their home to fit comfortably into the existing community. To achieve this, Kaufmann executed a modern take on the local storybook Spanish-California style: “The choice of exterior materials was the key to this,” Kaufmann said. Cor-ten rusted steel was chosen for the outside of the home, whose dark red and brown palette mimics the clay tile roofs of many of the neighboring homes. Kaufmann also added accent walls made of sustainably-harvested Ipe wood to create a warm, natural-looking exterior.
Ellen Rockne actively collaborated with Kaufmann, researching sustainable materials and systems for her new home. Since sun shading is critical in Santa Barbara, Kaufmann crafted a system of operable trellis louvers over the courtyard. The louvers can be opened in the morning or throughout winter when extra light and warmth are needed, but they can be closed in late afternoon and during the summer when the sun becomes too intense. Another innovative louver system was also installed on a sliding track for the three bedrooms on the second floor. These sleek louvers act like a screen, allowing ventilation into the bedrooms while shielding them from the intense light.
Large boulders excavated during the site work were collected and used as design elements in the central garden. The courtyard between the breezespace and studio provided the ideal location for Ellen’s singing performances. The landscape is designed to accommodate an audience while Ellen uses the breezespace as an ad hoc stage.
Unlike many clients, who desire screening from neighbors and roads, Ellen and Brian had a different outlook. The couple wanted a feeling of connection to their neighborhood’s street life. “We want to bring back the front porch,” said Ellen, “we plan to sit on the front deck and talk to people as they walk by.”