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By Drew Limsky | Photo: Robin Hill | January 31, 2017
KZ Architecture achieves seamlessness by bringing the exterior’s materials and planes inside.
With a couple as clients, there’s bound to be lots of marital finger-crossing with the hope that the spouses are on the same page—particularly about the choice of architect. But the husband and wife clients of KZ Architecture’s Jaya Kader were actually drawn to her independently. As Kader recalls, “They were looking for an architect, and they are very resourceful; very design-savvy. They were both researching, looking at books and magazines, and finally, when they compared their favorite projects, both projects turned out to be mine. So they hired me.”
Not only was the couple knowledgeable about design; they are both engineers and even roughed out some layouts. The couple wanted to maximize the site and still have room for a courtyard and pool. Typically, Kader prefers to present clients with options, but in this case there was only one viable solution: a three-floor L-shaped plan for the 10,000-square-foot house.
The result is assertively geometric, with strong horizontal lines that lead to overhangs, terraces and wide courtyard stairs. Clerestory windows and trellises deliver openness and visual interest, and Kader even found a place in the rear of the house to create slots in an exterior concrete wall. “Wherever there was an opportunity to add an open element or sightline, I didn’t want it closed off,” she says. “The exterior is permeable and the openings are in dialogue with each other.”
Though the house is undeniably modern, it is far from coldly minimalist. And it nods to nature. The facade achieves depth and texture through Kader’s use of split-face limestone and ipe that stand out from the pale concrete. As one moves around the property, the change in perspective is compelling, due to the levels and layering and the visual satisfaction of the rich, perfectly placed wood and stone walls.
“One of the reasons the clients came to me was that they didn’t want a stark look,” Kader recalls. “They wanted a home that had a warm and tropical aesthetic. The project was able to materialize with that desire in mind—something softer, and somewhat more vernacular and regional.”
In the spirit of tropical modernism and the allure of indoor-outdoor living, the same (or similar) materials and design moments are used inside and out. The foyer and powder room are clad in the split-face limestone that is found on the exterior; the porcelain floors, inside and out, are surfaced in a nearly identical finish. Moreover, the kitchen isn’t a glossy, discrete unit, but instead refers to the wood on the outside through the use of oak for the island (topped in quartz) and cabinetry. Even the kitchen’s LED lighting, set within a canopy-like dropped ceiling, occurs in an L shape that echoes the L-shaped house.
“I’ve been practicing this kind of indoor-outdoor integration since 2005 or 2006,” the architect says. “I’ve always continued the same or similar floors from the inside to the outside, and the same articulation on the walls and the facades. Tropical modernism has always been in my language.”