Snaking its way through the ceiling, the skylight in this home creates a stunning ‘river of light’ that works as the central artery of the building. This is the Split Light project, a house exploring the different levels of natural light that filter through a home.
Christopher Mercier from (fer) studio is the architect behind this project, and he says the skylight is one of his favorite elements of the design. It extends along the length of the house and folds down onto the front facade.
“The skylight was designed in a way where we played with limiting width and at the same time stretching its overall length to reach the main living areas of the house. I believe the width fluctuates between 24” to approximately 36” wide and the length extends for approximately sixty four feet.”
The main design requirement for this home was a space with plenty of natural light. Usually with windows we’re able to bring in light from an exterior facade but the skylight is an unusual add to the mix. The continuous liner skylight trails from the front door, up the wall and along the centre of the property, offering natural light to reach straight to the core of the home.
You can see from the last two photos how lighting can change the effect and mood of a space.
“[The skylight] naturally tracks the suns east/west path throughout the day, providing an ever changing sequence of daylighting experiences, as well as defining the main circulation route within.”
The architectural form of the house is directly linked to the way the interior is organized and planned to make the most of natural light and each room’s views.
While the front exterior has a strong street presence with glass and brick materials, you see along the side entrance a minimal black and white facade using wood siding to provide privacy.
The homeowners have a strong interest in globally diverse art and culture. As with most tailor-designed projects, it meant the design process involved a lot of development and changes throughout.
Mercier explains that “the models are treated as design tools and not intended for formal presentations so much but instead there to be modified, cut up, torn open and really explored during the meeting duration. To such an extent that many times the models we come into a meeting with, look substantially different from the ones leaving the meeting.”
The design and re-design is essential to Mercier and the techniques at the foundation of (fer) studio: Form, Environment, Research.
“It is this hands on kind of participation that we are after, where professional barriers can break down a bit and the experience is one closer to kids just playing and exploring together rather than adults having a formal meeting and it is from this, where we end up coming upon many of the best architectural solutions.”
The open plan kitchen and living room is one of the largest rooms in the house, at the central core of the living space. Cut away at the edge of the room leads to a shaded patio space.
We like the cool neutral design, allowing the shapes and art to shine. Just how windows and corners of the house are placed in cut out angles, the fireplace and height of the ceiling show that the design has been considered at every angle.
While the homeowners would ideally have loved a larger plot of land for a larger yard, this fire pit and secluded patio area are definitely a charm.
“We have seen many Architectural projects over the years where entire ceilings are turned into full glass experiences and appreciate the exciting affect this can produce. At the same time we felt we wanted to explore limiting the amount of light and instead play (from both a visual and sustainable perspective) with how light changes over the duration of the day as it moves and along its path. In the end this skylight turned into one of the main interior focus of the house, as it defines the main circulation route internally, shaping the amount of light and roughly where it lands internally.”
The view here on the upper floor gives you a sense of the way light plays with the other materials in the space. It dances through the different windows and enriching the wood tones of the hallway.
None of the windows are your average rectangle. From bedroom to bathroom, the shape and form of the windows are playful and deliberate to accentuate the view outside and the way light enters the room.
There is a playful way that the rooms involve the exterior landscapes. For example, the way the patio fits together with the living room lounge space like a jigsaw puzzle, or a niche outside provides a nook for growing bamboo. This gave (fer) studio some great ways to play with indoor and outdoor connectivity.
“While we were completing this house in construction, at the same time we were in design on another house just outside of Los Angeles proper. Unique to this other house with it being somewhat outside of the city, was its acre size property and the ability to really extend the house and interior spaces outward into the landscape, engaging the exterior yard as programed spaces that link back to the interior. This is something we are very interested in conceptually.”
In this bedroom, the soft neutral tones of the textiles a paired with the rich tones of the wood. The gray armchair feels lush and warm paired with the pops of yellow and gold on display.
Overall the Split Light house offers a striking play of lighting with its skylight and individualized windows for every space and shape. It’s a fun project that questions how we use the space in our home, both indoor and out.