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photo of Montecito Residence
Photo: Jean-Luc Laloux

Montecito Residence

Montecito, California

Montecito Residence

Montecito, California

  • Design Principal

    Tom Kundig

The Montecito Residence is a single-family home set in fire-prone Toro Canyon near Santa Barbara. The owners wanted a house that minimized the use of scarce natural resources and that was equal to the challenging environmental conditions of the site. The design solution was to harvest and control the very climatic conditions that put the canyon so at risk for fire: sun and wind.

The house is made of simple, fire-resistant materials: concrete, steel, and glass. Exterior perforated metal screens on the west side of the house can be lowered to provide shade or additional fire protection. The steel of the siding and roof is allowed to oxidize, and the concrete is toned so that the house blends into the canyon landscape.

Upswept roof forms at the entrance and over the primary living spaces give the house its distinctive profile, while channeling rainwater for use on site. The roof functions as an umbrella to shield the house from the sun, while the 100-foot-long central hallway allows naturally cool offshore breezes to circulate.

The front door, a tall Dutch door, lets fresh air in while maintaining privacy. A system of locks, gears and chains allows the owner to determine how much the door opens. The central hallway creates an axis dividing public from private spaces: the garage, road, and entrance lie to the east; the garden, pool, guest rooms, and other living spaces lie to the west. The hallway ends in a glass and steel box turned 180 degrees to maximize the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

The owners acquired the site because of the dramatic ocean and mountain views and the privacy afforded by the 10‑acre site. The design was a direct response to the site conditions, both the challenges and the opportunities. Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA




Residential Architect Design Awards, Merit Award: Custom Home Over 3,000 SF


AIA National Housing Committee Awards, Housing Committee Award

Architectural Record, House of the Month

Sunset and AIA Western Home Awards, Honorable Mention: Custom Home


AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Awards, Honor Award

Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards, American Architecture Award

Northwest Design Awards, First Place: Whole House Over $400,000


AIA Seattle Honor Awards, Award of Commendation



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