A client wants to build a deck at the top of her steep hillside property. The view from there is breathtaking! Unfortunately, structural requirements make it prohibitively expensive. In addition, the obligatory 25-foot-wide side yard deems the project impossible to implement at the location we’re considering. Well, I am not giving up just yet. There must be a feasible solution right at our fingertips. Actually, what if we create a free-standing rooftop structure over the existing roof?
In my mind’s eye, I see a floating terrace that complements the house, enhances the intimate feeling of a spa-like refuge the site possesses, and makes the most of the view.
The objective is clear. We have to design a bold (yet much more modest) alternative to a traditional deck. Massive concrete piers plunging to the bedrock are not appropriate.
Thus, we should look at the problem differently. Thinking outside the box, I imagine a “balcony” that visually merges with the house without touching it. Not a heavy-handed intervention. Rather, an extension of a multi-tiered outdoor space overlooking the hillside and the city below. A conversation piece as well as an ideal spot to sunbathe while reading a book.
Great! Opening to the view is the point of departure. Next, I’d like to come up with a parti, to invent a narrative that will justify the design and imbue it with meaning. The concept of a Captain’s Bridge, an open-to-the-weather high command platform, is it! The key to all of the decisions if we move forward.
Blending into the site, a bridge-like rooftop deck spans over, does not touch the pristine roof. You’ll never know there was anything changed from the front of the home.
So, it needs to have a sense of transparency and lightness. Simplicity is essential:
- Clean geometric shapes;
- A limited materials palette;
- Lack of embellishments;
- Exposed connections.
Originally, while we were contemplating siting the deck at the very top of the property, I imagined a curved staircase leading up to it… Concrete steps punctuated with generous landings spilling into a terraced garden. That would’ve been an architectural opportunity… We were also planning on installing an out of view outdoor shower. Maybe we can still consider these ideas as a possibility and pursue them.
I can just picture it: the soaring rooftop deck, an epitome of California dream life in the Hollywood hills, becomes one of the favorite places to wind down. A unifying element in the casual scheme, it is accessible through an exterior spiral staircase and adjacent to an open-air dining area partially tucked under it. The outdoor lighting is edited down so the owner could enjoy the sparkling city below.