This project in Sherman Oaks, California, began with a 1,200-square-foot excavation carved out of seemingly uninhabitable space beneath an existing post-and-beam residence on a hillside site. The terraced solution satisfies strict code requirements that inhibit altering the existing structure. The new extension joins the living quarters above to the garden below, creating a contemporary escape, refuge, and oasis under the existing home. Angled walls, multiple floor planes, and manipulated white wall planes provide a theatrical backdrop for our client’s art collection. The large gesture of the cascading stair connects all the floors of the multitiered space, creating a unified whole. The stair, wider toward the center and narrower at both ends, creates a forced perspective. Experientially, this results in altered perceptions as one ascends or descends the stair, with the angled wall transforming into a soffit overhead. The floating form reinforces movement through the space and contains the mechanical and sound systems. 


Sherman Oaks, CA


Single Family Residence


1,200 sq ft


Completed 2001


National AIA Award

Published, Architectural Digest

Published, Architectural Record


Perazelli Structural Engineers

The experiences of descending and ascending the new space intensify and amalgamate the transition  between the old and new elements of the home. The kitchenette is tucked beneath the shower. All levels and the landscape beyond are visible from the entertainment room. 12-foot-high sliding glass doors open to the heavily wooded garden. Ceiling heights vary at each level reaching a maximum height of       16 feet at the music room. The bathroom, adjacent to the grand stair and central to all levels, has laminated opaque glass walls.  A horizontal plane of stainless steel anchors the lavatory, penetrating the glass wall and becoming a focal point at the hallway. When illuminated, the bathing chamber is omnipresent and the silhouette of the activity within is revealed. The space underneath the home, typically considered unfit for traditional domestic use, has been transformed into a peaceful, personal sanctuary. 

© Tighe Architecture 2021

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