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When is a setback not a setback? When one kind becomes a design opportunity of the other, as in the case of the oddly-formed Vail Grant Residence to be built right into the side of a hill on the semi-suburban slopes in Silverlake, California.

With a startling 66 percent grade and a slew of local ordinances defining its potential boundaries, the resulting deformation features curious folds, creative voids and unique volumes to provide both living space and views for the clients.

3D digital site and physical structure models (along with computerized interior renderings and exploded axonometrics) show how the resulting design conforms to and defies its context – excavated portions give way to organic extrusions as the building becomes intertwined with the landscape.

Working with economic limitations, construction-site difficulties and building-code constraints, the firm of Pugh + Scarpa managed to make lemonade out of lemons via cast-in-place concrete walls, prefab Structural Concrete Insulation Panels (or SCIPs) and light-gauge, cold-rolled steel able to bend and fold on demand.

In addition to simple mass-produced materials, shorter spans made the structural design easier and lighter weight. Meanwhile, solar panels situated in the rear of the lot provide more than sufficient power for the whole home when coupled with a geothermal air conditioning system, sun-heated concrete slabs and natural convection.