Home Tours Q&A with designer Robert Crockett, AIA

Last Updated: April 27, 2011

Home Tours Q&A with designer Robert Crockett, AIA

Santa Monica, CA, USA

Home Tours Q&A: Robert Crocket, AIA of Crockett Architects Inc.

This home is featured in our Spring 2011 Home Tour, "Venice=/SaMo (Venice is not Santa Monica)," taking place May 15th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

AIA|Los Angeles got in touch with our Spring 2011 Home Tours, Robert Crockett, AIA, designer of the Mohammed Residence in Santa Monica. The Mohammed Residence's main point as a home is how easily architecture was merged with religious necessities. Please read on to discover how Crockett took into consideration his client's Muslim faith and let that influence his design of the home.

How did the environment where the home was built influence the design?
The house is located north of Montana in a quiet Santa Monica neighborhood. The homes in the area range from massive builder boxes with subterranean garages, to smaller homes with character. The client's program required a significant amount of square footage (5,900 square feet) for a 7,500 square foot lot. It was very important for us to design a home that fit into the existing neighborhood scale, and not overpower the neighborhood. This was accomplished by articulating the volumes of the house to hide its actual size from the street, and by placing the tallest portion of the house toward the middle of the site where it cannot be seen from the street.

What is your favorite feature of the home?
My favorite feature is probably the most unexpected, the rooftop terrace, with its planted garden, covered seating, and dining table for 14. It has sweeping rooftop views of the neighborhood and the Pacific Ocean.

As an architect, how much of your personal touch do you put in each building you design? How do you move on from one project to the next?
Our work is not of style, but of process, a collaborative approach with clients, consultants, and craftsmen. Each project is uniquely responsive to the client, site and program.
I am intimately involved in every commission that our studio receives. We work very closely with the craftsmen that build because homes are essentially large pieces of cabinetry for living. I believe the energy and thoughtfulness brought to a project when everyone feels challenged to produce their best work stays in the space long after they are gone.

From a design point of view, can you discuss the differences between Venice and Santa Monica? When I moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980's, Santa Monica was an older more traditional beach community; Venice was edgy. In the last 20 years, gentrification has driven much of that diversity away.

The house was commissioned by a Muslim family, in what ways did you use architecture to fit the family's religious needs?
The client's religious faith was an integral part in the layout and design of the home, and a primary element of discussion from the beginning. There were specific religious spatial requirements including a location for prayer, the performing of Wudu, and breaking of fast for Ramadan. There are other faith based requirements as well that were incorporated into the house, from bathroom layouts and quantities, to material and color choices based on the Islamic system of colors.

How does the religious faith of the client affect the needs of the residence's design?
The form of the house was derived using the two primary Islamic tenants of architecture: the courtyard, and the articulation of surface.
The traditional introverted courtyard house expresses the need to exclude the outside environment while protecting that which is inside - the family and the inner life. With a modest 50 by 150 residential lot, rather than one central courtyard, the house is developed around a series of gardens, which allow visual layering of interior and exterior spaces, while providing privacy from the outside environment.
Islamic surface decoration is a part of a large Islamic architectural tradition that aims at a visual negation of the reality of weight and the necessity of support. The forms/mass and glazing of the house are subdivided according to a system based on two elements: the panel and the band. These two elements of Islamic ornamental syntax interact to make the plastic articulation of the forms possible. Where the panel functions as discontinuous elements, the bands serve as links providing the cohesion of the whole.


About Robert Crockett Architects, Inc.

Crockett Architect's work is culturally diverse and inventive. Their work is not of style, but of process, driven by a collaborate approach with clients, consultants and craftsmen. Rather than narrowing on a particular building typology, the studio works on a diverse array of projects including: hotels, restaurants, commercial and mixed use, churches, private residences and corporate offices.


* To purchase tickets for the May 15th AIA|LA Home Tour please click here.

  • For more information on the Home Tours, "Venice=/SaMo: Venice is not Santa Monica," visit the webpage.

To view photographs of all the homes on the tour, please visit the galleries

Last updated: 11-Dec-2012 10:20 AM
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