La Canaria house by selgascano + Diego Cano

La Canaria

This house is located in Mount Washington, a suburb in the hills of north-east Los Angeles. The property is on a steep hill with sweeping 180° views towards the Elysian Valley.

From here, one can see downtown LA, the Echo Park hills, Silver Lake, Griffith Park and Hollywood; and overlook the Los Angeles River, three freeways (5, 2 and 110), and the railway line running through Los Angeles State Park.

Elysian Valley is the true city center of LA, both geographical and symbolic; geographical since it is equidistant to the ocean and the mountains (the two physical borders of Los Angeles) and symbolic since the city was founded by the river in 1781 by Spanish Governor Felipe de Neve as “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula” (Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River).

The steep lot faces southwest- in Los Angeles everything looks to the sunset, like its most famous boulevard- making a necessity to shelter the house from the strong sunlight, which is why from the outset we started to work with these two distinct factors: First, maintaining and encouraging the 180° horizontal views, and second, maximising the home’s protection from the constant sun.

The house becomes a reflection of the horizon, and golden is the color of the LA sunset. To enhance the views, we designed a large outdoor terrace with the same size as the interior space: in Los Angeles, like everywhere with a mild climate, the exterior ultimately becomes just as
important as the interior- people live outdoors and indoors, without any clear distinction.

We also designed an outdoor envelopment that veils all the interior and exterior spaces, an independent device that provides shelter from the sun and frames the views. This covering makes a powerful impact on the house, wraps completely around it, and frames the view in the large terrace.

It has been made from tubes of recycled aluminum painted in different colors, but the intention now is for this ‘wrapper’ to be embraced by nature, which will change the image of the house over time, with various creepers, bushes and trees, and specially 10 palm trees of three different varieties planted inside it, poking through and colonizing the Canary-yellow shading device (cage) as the real residents of it.

Perhaps —sometimes this idea has been mentioned to us – this project is an attempt to create a clear association of ideas with the best of the classical Los Angeles architecture, playful between horizontals and verticals and open views.

A third factor was added later: to build a very special home, with handmade details, with custom made materials, but trying to build them in an affordable way, since the usual price of construction
in LA is very expensive, and even more if you try to create unique details for every corner.

With this in mind, everything inside was planned strictly and tightly, dimensions and materials, considering the cost of each element and material at all times. We drew all the details, outdoor cover, walls, floors, ceilings, kitchen and furniture, and prefabricated everything outside Los Angeles to bring it later in two containers and install everything in a few non-stop weeks.

They call Los Angeles ‘The most exquisite invented garden in history’. In this land without water, where everything grows and there are millions of plants and people, one of the most beautiful
aspects is its artificiality.

And this house is undoubtedly also an attempt to work on that way, making everything — the plants, the palm trees, the wood, the aluminum tubes, the shadows and ultimately the home, the Canary cage – simply one thing: one same thing, dense, but lightweight, but new, but, mainly, familiar to the LA landscape. Source by selgascano + Diego Cano.

  • Location: Los Ángeles, California, USA
  • Architect: selgascano (José Selgas, Lucía Cano) + Diego Cano
  • Collaborators: Paolo Tringali
  • Wood work: Laimar
  • Joinery: Talleres Cejuela
  • Builder: Juan Santiago
  • Area: 170 m2 + 70 m2 (terrace)
  • Year: 2023
  • Photographs: Killarney Ave, Courtesy of selgascano