From the beginning the house had to accomplish three things: drink in as much of the ocean environment as possible, have large walls on which to display art, and include a special chamber in which the owner could listen to his 25,000-record collection.
Dr. Wei-Tzuoh Chen, who uses the residence as a weekend retreat from his work as a Central Valley kidney specialist, sought a modern setting (he grew up in a contemporary home in Taiwan). But he also desired a connection to his culture. Architect Ed Niles tapped into the shoji concept of translucency, fashioning a ceiling and walls for the kitchen-living area from fiberglass panels that transfer light inside. He also used glass throughout the house to create changing patterns of light and shadows. “It’s like living within a three-dimensional painting,” says Niles.
Because the house backs into a bluff, Niles was able to embed the music room in the hillside, sealing it off against vibrations and noise from PCH. Elsewhere the house opens up like a sun-loving flower: The master bedroom has a dramatic curved wall of windows, and his two children’s bedrooms on the second and third floors boast their own terraces. “The Taiwan climate is not unlike that of California, so the outdoors was always a big part of the design,” says Niles.
Photograph by Dave Lauridsen
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