Dume Drive Residence – Malibu Woolsey Fire Rebuild

Our clients lost their home with all their belongings on November 8, 2018, in the Woolsey Fire.

It was their desire to reclaim and re-inhabit their property as soon as possible. Our goal became to move them back onto their land within a reasonable amount of time, without having to live off site long term during the rebuild. To achieve this, we came up with a three-phase project. The family were amongst the first in their community to move back onto their property after the fire, shortly after the site was thoroughly decontaminated.

In the first “campsite” phase (phase 0), we planned an area for a temporary “living vehicle” – a small residential trailer that we connected to two sheds (one used as a laundry room and one as an office) and a large tent (used as a playroom and school house for their small children) via a large deck.

During the initial “camping” phase, we planned and permitted a guest house / ADU (phase 1) that was constructed off site in a factory as a prefabricated home. The house was delivered and installed as one of the first new structures in Malibu after the fire.

While our clients already lived in the prefabricated “guest house”, we completed the design, planning and permitting along with the required coastal development approvals for their dream house on the back of the property (phase 2).

Architectural concept:

The Architectural concept and site layout was driven by the desire to shield the pool and yard area from the very strong prevailing uphill ocean winds while maintaining transparency through the house and openness towards the protected outdoor space. The residence was designed as a large L shape/ arrow pointing toward the strong winds with courtyard, decks and pool behind the large protective wing roofs.

The main house was located as far West as feasible – towards the top of slope above the canyon on the ocean side of the property – to maximize the protected outdoor space on the leeward side of the structure. A 486-sf pool house was positioned on the East side of the pool to create a protected courtyard with decks and pool that is contained between building volumes on the West, South and East sides.

The two main house volumes contain private spaces at the ends with circulation corridors towards the wind protected courtyard and all public spaces at the center where the volumes meet. The residence contains 3 bedrooms and a den that doubles as a guest room. The bedrooms are kept deliberately on the smaller side, to dedicate the majority of the 3,160-sf main house to one continuous public space that supports and nurtures family togetherness.

The public area opens towards the ocean/ wind side with large corner sliding/ pocketing doors onto a large view deck. The courtyard side of the living space is articulated with inside corner sliding doors that disappear into the walls completely. to open the living room to a covered patio that becomes a living room extension and transition space to the pool and deck areas.

The entire house has only six windows because almost all glazing in the house consists of custom clerestory glass that was detailed (frameless) into the cedar clad ceiling and large (frameless) sliding and pivoting glass walls provided by Sky-Frame from Switzerland.

The Sky-Frame sliding doors in the living area are equipped with motorized operation that can be controlled via voice control. The whole living space can be opened with a simple voice command either entirely to all sides or towards a selected side depending on the wind conditions.


The material palette throughout the house is deliberately restrained and kept to only a few materials, in order to keep the focus on light and spatial relationships.

Interior plaster was used instead of drywall throughout and was also used to finish the showers. The texture and sheen of the plaster is emphasized by skylights that are placed along walls and in corners of all showers. The largest skylight is over 10’ long and placed over a travertine backsplash wall in the kitchen – to create a both dramatic and grounding moment.

Wide-plank oak floors were left natural with an invisible finish for the floors. The ceiling was clad in nickel gap tongue and groove cedar that was stained to a neutral tone. The direction of the cedar follows the direction of the two distinct building volumes so that an exact 45-degree mitered condition is created in the ceiling plane over the main space, with all reveals between boards aligning. The ceiling material continues under the large eave overhangs – with the clerestory glazing detailed to emphasize the continuity of the ceiling plane from inside to outside.

All cabinets are finished with a black stained white oak and topped with concrete counters. The bathroom vanities are concrete with integral sinks to further punctuate the continuity of the home’s material language.

The red balau decks around the entire house are left unfinished to weather to a silver gray over time. The sill condition (where the interior oak floor and exterior deck meet) was detailed utilizing a Sky-Frame bottom track that hides the mechanics of the rollers and waterproofing under the finished floor surface   – in order to minimize the threshold between inside and outside, as well as to emphasize the Architectural significance of the indoor and outdoor connection and continuity.

The exterior of the house is finished with a smooth concrete plaster, using an integral dark gray color. The garage and one of the boy’s bedrooms (with rooftop deck) are articulated without roof overhangs and clad vertically in the same cedar that was used on the ceilings – to create two “boxes” that contrast and anchor the language of the wing roofs of the two perpendicular building volumes.