Categories: Custom Home Designs

Hughes Umbanhowar Architects Combine Commerce and Domesticity in an Award-Winning Way


Discover a 4,900-square foot building turns into a gallery that flows effortlessly into a three-bedroom residence, also won a Design Excellence Award.

A building turns into a studio/gallery

This renovation by Hughes Umbanhowar Architects transforms the 4,900-square foot building into a studio/gallery that flows effortlessly into a three-bedroom residence, winning the 2008 AIATC Design Excellence Award.

Located on one of Venice’s most unique pedestrian streets, the artist owner wanted a space that would provide both a place to work as well as live, but without combining the two beyond a point of distinction. Transforming the space into the functioning form envisioned required a careful blend of the workplace with the residence using the original form of the existing structure.

Let’s Take the Tour

The first floor is reserved as retail space and serves as the artist’s gallery and studio and is open to the street traffic as such. The facade is comprised of a storefront window system that continues up to the second floor to purposely blur the lines between business and family life. The garage is separated from the gallery/studio one of the two vertical circulation solar chimneys.

The second floor is the perfect social living space, creating a clean yet blurred line between work and home. Serving as a buffer floor, this space can be used for socializing with family or clientele without imposing upon the personal space of the residence on the floors above. This space can also provide a somewhat veiled sense of privacy for both the residence above and the business below.

Putting more distance between work and home, the third and fourth floors were reserved for private living spaces for the family. The bedrooms are located on the third floor. A large covered balcony extends over the entrance below, providing shade, shelter, or lighting, depending on the conditions. The mounted skylight bestows a beautifully unobstructed view of the sky above to balcony visitors.

The largest portion of the fourth-floor roof deck was transformed into a private rooftop garden getaway for the family while the remainder became dedicated to solar energy collection.

One of the biggest challenges for this renovation was providing the views and sunlight desired while still maintaining privacy in such a densely built and occupied neighborhood.

This issue was resolved by creating an interior patio placed in the center of the building. This location allows for ample light and brings the outdoors inside while still being shielded from the street. Natural lighting was implemented throughout the project including in the spacious master bath.

Earth-Friendly Design and Delivery

As a conscious effort of the impact on the environment, both today and in the future, sustainable materials were implemented, and earth-friendly building methods were incorporated into the design, such as the solar energy collectors located atop the fourth floor on the garage side of the structure.

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Operable doors and windows are located at the roof level of each stair tower, providing passive heat stack release which helps to cool the home on hot summer days. This method is good for the environment as a whole. It also improves indoor air quality as well as provides a reduction in energy consumption.

Design by Hughes Umbanhowar Architects.

Design by Hughes Umbanhowar Architects.

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