Published in Wallpaper and the winner of a 2019 AIA Pasadena award, Kaweah Rockhouse by ID-EA cuts a dynamic, contemporary form in Pasadena’s Poppy Peak district
PHOTOS BY CAMERON CAROTHERS
Designed by Elsye Alam of ID-EA for herself and her young family, Kaweah Rockhouse is situated in Pasadena’s historic Poppy Peak, known for its unique collection of modernist homes by luminaries such as Richard Neutra and Harwell Hamilton Harris.
From the street Kaweah Rockhouse appears modest; a bridge driveway leads to a minimal, almost concealed facade which gives little away. The street facade is a deliberate contrast to the wide, transparent rear facade, designed to make the most of the site’s expansive vistas across Pasadena, Eagle Rock and the San Gabriel mountains beyond.
Externally, the site’s 40’ Himalayan cedar trees are echoed in the façade’s cedar batten cladding, which also provide a sense of verticality. The house is masterfully-sited and seemingly folds into the contours of the lot whilst simultaneously hovering over the hillside below.
Ellie Stathaki, Wallpaper magazine’s architecture editor, notes in her 2019 article on the house: ’Strong geometries and angled planes feature inside and out – in ceilings, walls, terraces and windows, creating a seamless connection between inside and outside, as well as adding dynamism to the overall composition. The exterior’s darker shade is contrasted by clean, crisp white interiors inside. "At night, mostly diffuse lights light the house, which creates a Scandinavian hygge atmosphere", says Alam.'
Strong geometries and angled planes feature inside and out
Internally, the building consists of three levels, which broaden out to towards the rear: the main space, set on the middle of the home, is a voluminous family room, with a 24’ wall of glass which slides open to connect the space with an Ipe deck, a perfect place to admire the distant views. The family room acts as focal point for the accommodation connecting the upper-level living area and the private lower-level bedrooms and bathrooms.
Surrounded by iconic mid century modern homes, Kaweah Rockhouse continues Poppy Peak Historic District’s legacy of exceptional architecture. Poppy Peak is a unique melding of architecture and location that contains one of the finest collections of Mid-Century Modernism in Southern California.
Named after the tallest point in the neighborhood, Poppy Peak contains forty-five residential properties dating from 1935 to 1968, one of the finest collections of Mid-Century Modernism in Southern California. Almost all of the district’s homes are custom-designed in a variety of Modern styles, representing the work of seminal architects including Lyman Ennis, James Pulliam, Kenneth Nishimoto, Buff, Straub & Hensman, Leland Evison, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Richard Neutra, William Henry Taylor and Robert Cox, amongst others.