Tiny Silver Lake addition channels Richard Neutra designs

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, aren’t for everybody in want of more room. Take architect John Bertram. After a few years spent dwelling in Richard Neutra’s 900-square-foot McIntosh home in Silver Lake, Bertram and his spouse, actress and author Ann Magnuson, felt cramped and needed extra room however didn’t want the kitchen and toilet that comes with an ADU.

So final 12 months, over a interval of 5 months and at a price of $170,000, Bertram added a soundproof yard studio that was designed and permitted as a recreation room. It now serves as a quiet getaway the place the couple can work, write and meditate within the stillness of a single room.

Like many architects, Bertram has spent a good period of time enthusiastic about structure. And as somebody who’s intimately acquainted with the work of Neutra — he has restored a number of houses by the famend modernist architect together with the Brown-Sidney House, which offered for $20 million in 2019 — he contemplated designing a indifferent addition that spoke to the structure of the 1939 McIntosh home.

A view of a small building, in a garden, through windows

The stand-alone recreation room retains a low profile within the backyard, as seen from the lounge of the McIntosh House.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Conscious of Neutra’s well-known description of his homes as “machines in the garden,” Bertram was intrigued by the idea of designing an unobtrusive addition that was part of the couple’s yard however didn’t overpower the panorama.

So final 12 months, working with contractor Alon Goldenberg of Golden Touch Construction, Bertram added a easy 12-by-12- foot (or 144-square-foot) recreation room that enhances the redwood-clad McIntosh House and preserves a considerable a part of the flourishing yard that serves as a pure habitat.

Like a Japanese tea home, the room is deliberately spare, with no visible distractions. Carefully located on the sloped yard behind the couple’s Silver Lake dwelling, the recreation room has a terrarium vibe because of its low location and broad Fleetwood home windows, together with one at chest stage that conveniently opens to permit Lucy, the couple’s cat, quick access to the unit. Similar to the principle home, the recreation room is compact, with a number of glass home windows and views that join the home to the panorama.

The interior of a small studio, with a tree visible outside through a window.

Views of timber and wildlife make the tiny recreation room appear larger.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

“Dialogue with the existing Neutra house is very important,” Bertram says. “It needed to be seen as not competing with the house, so it is sunken into the earth by 30 inches to make it as low as possible, which not only helps with the proportions of the structure but also makes it a good neighbor.”

In a dense neighborhood like Silver Lake, the place helicopters, site visitors and residents create the cacophony of city dwelling, the architect admits the couple is extra delicate to noise than most. For that cause, it was necessary to design a soundproof room the place they might retreat for quiet contemplation.

Bertram and Goldenberg created the acoustically remoted field by putting in concrete slab flooring, isolating the structural framing from the inside utilizing particular heavy rubber clips mounted on steel channels and including two layers of drywall on the partitions and ceiling.

Betram's studio, and home, in the garden

The recreation room was designed to enhance the Richard Neutra-designed McIntosh House.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The Fleetwood home windows and door, which Bertram says price round $25,000, are thermally remoted, which helps to scale back the transmission of sound. Closing the door and adapting to the silence is mesmerizing, prompting Bertram to explain it because the converse of a sound tub. “It’s really a silence bath,” he says.

In maintaining with the theme of simplicity, the inside is furnished with restricted gadgets: a sleeper couch from West Elm, a desk, a chair and 4 outsized linen and hemp pillows that can be utilized as flooring cushions. Four tiny dimmable LED lights add understated illumination and mushy pink paint — not too blue, grey or yellow, Bertram says — provides refined emotion to the partitions and displays the ample daylight that floods the room.

In an surprising contact, the construction’s roof is engineered as a deck because of a multilayer waterproof decking system that enables the couple to sit down amid the timber and take within the panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles. “We’ve talked about putting a yurt up there,” Bertram says with a smile.

A studio nestled among plants and trees

The recreation room, set into the earth, has the texture of a terrarium.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Sitting contained in the recreation room, which options tongue-and-groove redwood siding to match the principle home, is a charming expertise: The massive home windows supply views of the principle home, and draw you to the backyard’s authentic persimmon and pineapple guava timber planted by the McIntosh household within the ’30s, whereas the yard’s milkweed and hummingbird sage, added by panorama designer Matthew Brown, entice a continuing stream of birds and butterflies.

Now, 9 months after its completion, the unit has turn out to be a refuge for the couple, the place they will work, file, create and loosen up. Eventually, they hope to make use of the area as a miniature mission area for artwork and efficiency just like Elizabeth Wild’s Winslow Garage, which is down the road from them in Silver Lake.

Bertram says that if anybody had advised him the unit would price $170,000, he may not have gone by way of with the mission. Still, he understands why the price of developing the only room was so excessive: the truth that it’s sunk into the bottom, the super-thick home windows, the double layers of drywall and roof deck.

“There is a misconception that architects can figure things out inexpensively,” Bertram says satirically.People have an idea that an ADU or recreation room should be less expensive, although it is essentially a house, with everything that goes into building one. And, perhaps paradoxically, the smaller it is, the more expensive it will be per square foot.”

A man sits on a rooftop deck with views of palm trees and homes in the distance.

John Bertram enjoys the view from the rooftop deck atop his stand-alone recreation room.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

When requested what Neutra would take into consideration the ADU increase in Southern California, Bertram says he thinks he would embrace the thought with the caveat that he would have rigorous requirements, even in a housing disaster.

“It’s important to note that he would set a very high bar for their realization,” Bertram says. “Neutra was not only deeply concerned with the built environment but he was also dedicated to socially and environmentally responsible design. In his book ‘Survival Through Design,’ published in 1953, he writes: ‘All our expensive long-term investments in the constructed environment will be considered legitimate only if the designs have a high, provable index of livability. Such designs must be conceived by a profession brought up in social responsibility, skilled and intent on aiding the survival of a race that is in grave danger of becoming self-destructive.'”

It’s a philosophy that resonates with Bertram, who’s equally concerned with livability. He may work on million-dollar projects, but finds himself drawn to living in simple dwellings.

“It’s hard to make things harmonious in a house because there are so many details,” he says. “I love the idea of living with the bare minimum. There’s something exciting about living in a small space.”

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