An alien craft has landed on a hilltop in Bel Air, Los Angeles. Or, more accurately, a strange villa in the shape of a three-blade aeroplane propeller. The Orum Residence is the latest creation of developer Duangpatra Bodiratnangkura – the great-granddaughter of Thailand’s first property magnate, the late great Nai Lert Sreshthaputa – who’s been active for a number of years now in the City of the Angels. Completed in 2018, after four year’s work, this capacious villa – its accommodation is spread over a total of 1,750 m2 – was built by Californian firm SPF:architects, founded in 1990 by Zoltan Pali and Judit Fekete-Pali and based in Culver City, between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
Zoltan Pali says he was “greatly influenced” by the work of two men: Craig Ellwood, Angelino starchitect of the 1950s and 60s, and our era’s Renzo Piano, in particular with regard to the rigour in his details.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Getty Center, the hilltop site is most definitely blessed by the gods with its panoramic views over the whole Los Angeles basin. The brief was clear: “The client wanted a luxurious house where she could throw large events and host her extended family, but she also wanted it to feel welcoming,” recalls Pali. “She wanted it to be a model of light, air and openness, but also of comfort.” Which is what inspired the idea of the threeblade aeroplane propeller, since it best allowed the programmatic requirements to be respected. “Initially,” Pali continues, “we imagined a crossshaped plan with four arms at right angles, but we soon realized that a system with three wings not only allowed the building to open up better onto the different viewpoints, but also generated, in between the wings, exterior spaces that were much more interesting and varied, such as the entrance court, an entertainment court, with its outdoor pool, and a family court, which is quieter.”