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Hot House: Bridge House


Dan Brunn has taken the idea of home entertaining to the next level. While it’s common to see a project description include the various suppliers involved – a kitchen by X, bathrooms by Y and, perhaps, flooring by Z – the Tel Aviv native’s Los Angeles Bridge House rattles off a list of sponsors. More surprising among the group is BMW. What does the car brand have to do with a home in the residential neighbourhood of Hancock Park? 

Principal of his eponymous architecture studio, Brunn wanted to use the home – whose name derives from the fact that it physically bridges a natural stream – as a “demonstration of innovative systems and forward-thinking processes”. Presenting a new way to think about residential development, he wanted to create a space specifically for hosting events, tours and exhibits. (That said, Brunn does actually live here, too.) Bridge House will be activated by events throughout the year – including, of course, its own opening soirée, as well as events hosted by sponsors. The property will also showcase revolving art exhibitions – it played host, for example, to a temporary show during February’s Frieze Los Angeles. 

How do you go about designing a home that’s not just for you and your family but, also, for the wider world beyond? “It all started by thinking about the floor plan,” says Brunn, “with the first portion of the house being designated as public spaces.” Essentially, you enter the home at one end and everything up until the brook is meant for the public. The middle of the house, right above the water, is an outdoor living room. Beyond are all the private bedrooms and the family room. “This makes a very clear delineation of space for hosting.” 

The extensive sponsors list includes almost 60 names. So, how were the brands and contributors chosen? “Basically, it all comes down to relationships we’ve built over the years and coming back to our favourite brands,” says Brunn. “We wanted to be authentic and work only with products that exemplify that Dan Brunn Architecture ethos.” He adds that using ecologically friendly products and systems was of the utmost importance. It was also crucial that “the selection was translatable, meaning visitors would be inspired – and, hopefully, implement some of our selections”. 

In that respect, the residence is a different spin on a show home – for both the sponsors and the architect. To fulfil its role of ‘inspiring visitors’ – and presumably to encourage the sponsors’ involvement – Brunn had to push the design to the limits. Completed over the course of two years, Bridge House was designed to become a zero-net-energy home. The building’s bridge form means that less land is disturbed – almost one-third of its base is suspended – thereby lessening its impact on the immediate physical environment.

Hot House: Bridge House
The impressive structure of Bridge House doesn’t overshadow its interior. Works of art and a slew of furnishings are considered choices, too. Image:  Brandon Shigeta

Other innovations include the use of a modular structural system by Bone Structure – “the first of its kind in Los Angeles”, says Brunn. Helping to define the design, the system made it possible to use only bolted connections for construction, with no cutting tools required. 

Although the idea of sharing your home with a bunch of brands and their associated events won’t appeal to everyone, it’s certainly one way to stack a space full of top-notch products that already form a part of your everyday life. 

Brunn, for example, is part of a music band and can tinker with Yamaha instruments in the music room and… as for the link to BMW? Perhaps it’s not too long a stretch. The car group does include Mini, after all, which has already branched into small-footprint housing with its Living offshoot. As for Brunn, a review of #bridgehousela on Instagram reveals his views on that particular pairing. “When I moved to the States, speaking no English, my language was drawing,” he wrote. “During school recess, I would draw cars, the BMW E30 in particular, with another immigrant friend. This was our way to communicate.” 

His progression since, now partnering with the marque for this Los Angeles residence, has been both moving and self-affirming, and emphasises the importance of surrounding oneself with objects of emotional and personal significance. “I honestly couldn’t have been more humbled and proud.”

This article was originally published on ArchitectureNow

Tracey Ingram
Tracey is a New Zealand design and architecture writer based in Amsterdam.
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