Location: Los Angeles
Architect: Neil M. Denari Architects
The Alan Voo House is one of the boldest designs in Los Angeles, as well as one of its most elusive. Designed by Neil Denari as an extension to a typical bungalow style home from the 1940s in the Palms district, it is tucked away in the back of the house for only a select few to enjoy.
The owners of the house are, not surprisingly, a creative family. Eric Alan works in film, his wife, Rhonda Voo, is a graphic designer and illustrates children’s books, and together they raised three daughters that add to their parents’ cultural endeavors. The couple bought the house in 1990 and over the years felt it shrink as their family grew. In 2003, they were shopping on Beverly Boulevard and stumbled upon the LA Eyeworks showroom, Neil Denari’s first built project. They were so impressed with the design that they tracked down the architect to inquire about adding an additional 1,100 square feet to their home. Denari accepted the challenge and the project was completed in 2007.
The addition’s top floor, when seen from the corner of the backyard, is reminiscent of the iMac computers that were so pervasive at the time this project was being developed. The similarity is more than a coincidence, as the architect has claimed that he gets much of his inspiration from product and industrial design. The two defining tones, one aqua and the other seafoam green, are the architect’s signature colors.
The top floor appears to float mid-air thanks to the two V-shaped columns beneath that lift it up like strongmen, while the floor-to-ceiling glass and the large unbroken panels contribute an undeniable lightness to the aesthetic of the project. The original house is a single story; the addition is approached from its top floor.
Although the addition boldly contrasts with the host building from the outside, the relationship between the two on the inside is virtually seamless. Denari toned down the curvy geometry where the two meet to make the difference of the extension less shocking. Above are the master bedroom and updated kitchen, while below is the open air living room where the family regularly comes together. This is where Denari’s love of structural details really shines through, with daringly cantilevered stair treads and a sculptural bannister.
The owners sold many of their unnecessary possessions in an effort to live more simply, perhaps inspired by the beautiful, pared-down style of their newly renovated home. And while articles about the Alan Voo House have seen some comments from readers along the lines of “frozen” and “set-like”, when interviewed several months after the addition was completed, the whole family shared their thoughts on how livable the sleek new space turned out to be, and emphasized how much they enjoy their newly expanded home.