There’s no mistaking the fact that this pale blue residence is home to a basketball enthusiast. After all, the first thing you see from the curb is a cantilevered volume stretching out a hoop over a painted court on the driveway. Even if architect Stephane Malka hadn’t named it “Dunk House,” it probably would’ve ended up with that nickname around its Manhattan Beach, California neighborhood, anyway. This bold front-and-center placement pays homage to the Los Angeles street basketball tradition and announces to the world that the home belongs to an unnamed retired pro basketball player.
From there, the home’s identity gets less literal, but no less gorgeous. “Dunk House” is really a love letter to LA, defined first and foremost by its color. Malka created a special shade of “Los Angeles Blue” just for this application, explaining that the polarized paint interacts “with the various solar luminosities, and automatically adjusts its color to match the Californian sky’s tones, merging the house with its surrounding.” This gives the home a “contemporary stealth camouflage” that makes it less obtrusive in the landscape, merging almost seamlessly into its surroundings.
That camouflage continues from the main house to the mirrored guest home in the backyard, which reflects all the lovely sky blue as well as the adjacent palm trees and the swimming pool that stretches between the two buildings. Facing each other with oversized windows, the volumes feel like extensions of each other, and as the “Los Angeles Blue” paint penetrates the interiors, it helps to blur the lines between indoors and out.
“The result is a contextual alliance between the very materiality of the villa its surrounding, proactively interacting towards the streets of LA, the beach community, the sun’s latitude, and the sky intensity,” Malka says.
The blue is just as refreshing inside as it is on the exterior walls. Used to define a double-height lounge area, it’s painted on the walls and floors and continues with a gradient effect onto the glossy built-in cabinetry. Skylights let the sun play the same visual tricks here as it does outside, amplified by the reflections off the water. The home’s all-white furniture mimics the lounge chairs by the pool in a nod to LA’s perpetually temperate weather.
Though we only glimpse the common areas of the home in Malka’s photos, we still get a sense of the mood that likely continues into more private spaces. The bright cheerful blue shifts into textural sand-colored floors, while white walls deeper inside the home aid in reflecting the plentiful sunlight.
“Dunk House” is one of Studio Malka Architecture’s more laid-back and minimalist works. The firm has gained a reputation for pushing both boundaries and buttons, never afraid to offer surprising and unconventional solutions, experiment with new materials, or make a political statement. They often play with modularity and exploded geometric forms, recently deconstructing a brick wall at the Paname Comedy Club and stacking golden volumes of student housing, both in Paris. Earlier works include a 2014 proposal to co-opt a bridge for modular affordable housing, and “Plug-In City 75,” a sustainable development packed with balconies and hanging gardens.