Drawing on inspiration from the mid-century era and the Californian modernist home that once sat on the site, architect Soheil Nakhshab felt compelled to channel the philosophy of Master Builders in creating this San Diego residence.
Photography: Darren Bradley
Architecture & Developer
Nakhshab Development and DesignFounded in 2003, Nakhshab Development & Design is a family-owned San Diego practice that offers design, engineering, construction and real estate development consulting. At the heart of the practice is designing for community and multi-generational living that responds to the surroundings and reflects the occupant’s lifestyle and personality.
Endeavouring to approach their work with a Master Builder philosophy, Nakhshab Development & Design wanted to pay homage to the mid-century era in this 5400sqft San Diego home. With architect Soheil Nakhshab at the helm and a designer-client, a collaborative vision was the key ingredient to overcoming a challenging site and The City of Del Mar’s tough design review process.
The site topography and neighbouring homes were the main influential factors in conceiving the design layout and palette of the residence. To the south, an expansive sandstone wall of natural soil formation encloses the property creating a bunker-like feel. To the east and west, are neighbouring properties disguised by a plantation of Torrey pine trees, and to the north lies the street.
The Story Behind The Design
With many of the original homes in the neighbourhood of modest size and designed to connect with the natural landscape, architect Soheil Nakhashab says getting the scale and position right was key to the project’s success. “It was important for me to preserve that scale from the street as I didn’t want to take away from the natural environment with a disproportionate building mass.”
The architect located the building near to the sandstone wall and manipulated the layout to use it as a tool to create privacy for the secluded courtyard and swimming pool. While this valley-like topography helped to shield the view from neighbouring properties, it presented an issue of obtaining natural light into the interiors.
“I incorporated atriums and skylights throughout the home to flood every square inch of both levels with natural lighting,” explains Soheil. Floor to ceiling glass was repeated throughout the form to prevent the interiors feeling dark and to foster a strong connection between the outdoors. As a result, each interior space has an uninterrupted view of the picturesque location or physical access to the landscaped external areas.
The inclusion of glass in itself pays homage to the mid-century structure that sat before the new build. This is further emphasised by following many of the original building’s lines in the revived layout and adopting design elements of the era such as the post and beam construction.
It was important for me to preserve that scale from the street as I didn’t want to take away from the natural environment with a disproportionate building mass.
A Mid-century timeless tone
Take A Closer Look
A minimalist, dark palette allows the dominate form to be embedded into the site and complements the natural grey and subdued green tones of the surrounding drought-tolerant landscape. “I use black and white as the base colours for almost all of my projects as I find that palette helps highlight the building forms,” says Soheil. Pops of colour are added throughout the build in fixtures, furnishings and artworks.
Cutting through the muted palette, a substantial Crackenback® Freeform® stone wall graces the interior and outdoor entertaining areas. “The natural beauty of the stone worked quite well with the sandstone found on this particular site,” Soheil explains. “The goal was to make the home feel like a part of the natural surroundings, hence we chose to not use any grout on the stone installation. The grout-less application is very elegant.”
Fittings & Fixtures
Artek High Chair K65
Norr11 Man Lounge
Apparatus Trapeze 10 Pendant
Custom Artwork by Nicole Sayour Botto
Exposing structural elements in the finished architecture is something Soheil Nakhashab endeavours to implement in many of his projects. “I find beauty in highlighting the building structure, hence the exposed post and beam details; they are structural but also architectural.” This approach of refining the structure features was further strengthened by the grout-less Crackenback® Freeform® stone wall and stack bond details in the basement retaining walls.
Internally, the Crackenback® Freeform® natural stone wall is complemented by the use of rich coloured timbers and the black steel accents synonymous with mid-century design. The thoughtfully placed atriums filled with hardy plant species allow natural light to flood into the interiors and through all levels.
“Every element of this custom Del Mar modern home works in harmony with the other. The result is a sanctuary for family and friends to gather as a getaway to enjoy the beauty of nature and leave the stresses of everyday life behind.”
The goal was to make the home feel like a part of the natural surroundings, hence we chose to not use any grout on the stone installation. The grout-less application is very elegant.
Soheil explains the details of the Crosby residence were “meticulously poured over” which worked in their favour both in regards to the project’s overall success and timeline. “The City of Del Mar has the toughest design review process within the San Diego area. Most projects take at least a year to receive approvals, but we managed to get ours approved in 3 months,” says Soheil.
The Crosby residence gave Soheil the opportunity to embody the Master Builder philosophy by designing and building the project. This influenced the project’s cohesiveness and the ability to refine the design when challenges presented themselves during construction. “Good design is complete,” says Soheil reflecting on the end result.