Home tour: A Venice addition made of three living walls
You may have heard of living walls, but how about a living box? The exterior walls of the new wing of the Bricault family’s Venice home are clad in sedums and other succulents, which soften the contemporary architecture so it looks like a plush, verdant floating cube.
Owner Paul Bricault likes the way the horticultural house gets people talking. “Everyone who comes here looks at it with this quixotic expression. We get all sorts of questions, including, do we have roots coming through the inside walls?”
The plants, including their roots, are actually contained by a modular green-wall system that Marc Bricault, Paul’s brother and a Vancouver, Canada-based architect and furniture designer, specified while designing the 1,700-square-foot home addition.
Before the renovation, Paul, his wife, Cicek, and Marc had been intrigued on a trip to Paris by the vegetation-draped walls installed at Hotel Pershing Hall. Marc also spent time in Japan, where he saw other inspiring examples of planted walls. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Those influences can be seen on three sides of the new master bedroom, which extends from a two-story section to create a carport below. To create the planted walls, Marc used a modular planted-panel system manufactured by ELT Easy Green in Canada and distributed in the U.S. The pre-planted cells are mounted on a membrane-moisture barrier and irrigated by captured rainwater. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A view of the front of the house from the street. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Originally a 515-square-foot beach house built in 1911, the residence had been given a contemporary, 1,533-square-foot addition in the 1990s by previous owners. Here, Cicek Bricault stands near the home’s entry garden. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
“The older facade gives a nod to the history of Venice,” Cicek says. . . . (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
” ... But when you walk inside, it is modern, with 25-foot ceilings,” Cicek says. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The entryway. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The couple bought the house in 2000, but by 2006, after the births of their two children, they wanted to expand.
Marc Bricault’s design solution begins with an open connection between the dining-kitchen area and a glassed-in family room that Paul and Cicek call the “terrazzo terrarium.” The room’s west wall is connected to the 475-square-foot “courtyard” via five side-by-side, fir-and-glass doors. The massive doors pivot open, leading to a terrazzo ledge that floats above the tiny garden, where flowering shrubs and vines attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The room’s east wall faces a semi-transparent fence that allows morning light to filter through plantings and illuminate the interiors. In the northeast corner of the room, a curved steel-and-walnut staircase leads upstairs to the second floor and rooftop garden. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
On the roof, the staircase tower doubles as a funnel to draw cool air to the interior. It opens onto a green meadow planted with native grasses; walkways and decking are made from Trex, a recycled composite material. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The vegetable garden only takes up a 3-by-12 foot slice, but it is “one of the biggest draws that pulls everyone to the roof,” Marc adds. He grows artichokes, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, celery, parsley, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, plus a lemon and orange tree. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Four-year-old Dustin Bricault can often be found playing in the secret hideout that occupies the narrow space between the home and the church next door. Marc built it as a surprise for the kids, recycling extra building material instead of taking it to the landfill. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
This is the master bedroom. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Dustin hangs on a free standing bathtub in the bathroom across from the master bedroom. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The guest bathroom. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The Bricaults say they didn’t have a huge wish list when designing the addition other than asking Marc to make the addition “neighbor-friendly” and to give them a roof garden. Their connection to pedestrians and passersby extends to the alley, where strangers often stop to thank Paul and Cicek for beautifying an otherwise neglected thoroughfare.
“It was a gesture from Marc to create a pretty thing for people to look at,” she says.
The Bricault home is one of 31 properties open to the public on May 1 on the Venice Garden & Home Tour. Gardens on the ground level and roof and portions of the Bricault home are included on the tour, which benefits the Neighborhood Youth Assn.'s Las Doradas Children’s Center.