Sliced and Folded: Modern White House Tumbles Down a Hill in Los Angeles

Looking a bit like an architectural Transformer in the middle of taking on a new form, this Highland Park home by the firm Urban Operations takes a highly structured, geometric approach to occupying a hillside. There are no organic forms or curves following the contours of the land; rather, the house seems to exist in tension with the topography that surrounds it, as if it’s ready to fold into a different shape altogether in the event of a landslide or earthquake.

The 2,400-square-foot house features three volumes that step from the top of the hill to its base. Stuccoed white planes seem to fold, expand, retract and crack open to reveal peeks at a dark gray volume underneath, creating an illusion of potential movement. Angled cutaways reveal rooftop decks, terraces, stairwells and entranceways.

The architects dug into the hillside at 4752 East Baltimore Street to partially embed the new house, giving it an anchor. They based the roof deck on villas designed by Le Corbusier, giving the residents views of Griffith Park in the foreground and the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.

“The design marries strategic hillside engineering with a series of stepped programmatic volumes, which are then sliced and folded at various code-generated orientations in order to produce a unified holistic design,” they explain.

The three-bedroom, 3-bath house is now up for sale by Urban Operations architect John Southern for $1.3 million.

“The exquisite hillside modern places you in prime Highland Park with sweeping views and effortless urban access. Stepping gracefully up sloping topography, the spacious home presents a dramatic profile designed around the concepts of open flow and seamless integration with the outdoors. Custom wood and tile craftwork are abundant; the kitchen is outfitted with a center island, waterfall quartz countertops and a pro-grade appliance suite. Strategically located light-wells flood the home with sunlight. Second-level bedrooms access decks and an at-grade patio which transitions into a yard landscaped with native species”