IF ONLY ALL TEARDOWN projects looked so good, there'd be nary a whimper of NIMBY resistance to be heard. Land-wise, Equestrian Avenue Villas was an even trade—three old catalog homes in exchange for three new residences occupying the same 36-foot-wide lots. But in the aesthetics department, the impeccably styled Spanish colonial dwellings were a major upgrade.
Surrounded by gardens and light on three sides, each zero-lot-line home makes the most of its slim envelope. An inverted floor plan bumps the main living spaces up to the second level to preserve privacy and as a buffer from street noise. “In an urban environment, second-floor living puts you above the clatter, plus you gain a better vantage of the surrounding architecture, landscape, and distant geography,” says architect Barry Berkus. Sculpturally, this move also allowed for a more poetic expression of the volume of each house (witness the fishbone timbering), insofar as ceiling heights in the kitchens and great rooms weren't capped by another tier of bedrooms or attic space.
All that and the project didn't miss a beat in its compliance with stringent architectural review board requirements, as well as a solar ordinance.
Category: Production/Semi-custom, 2,000 to 3,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Land planner/Landscape architect: B3 Architects/Berkus Design Studio, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Builder/Developer/Interior designer: Jack ‘N Toolbox, Santa Barbara
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Santa Barbara, CA.