Sapphire Gallery by XTEN Architecture



XTEN Architecture have designed Sapphire Gallery, an extension to a house for art collectors in Los Angeles, USA.


Cantilevered above the existing 1960's house, the structure is clad in perforated aluminium to protect the artwork from direct sun but allow views of the gardens beyond.


Solar cells are arranged in a similar pattern on the south facade and sloping roof.


Radiant heating and cooling systems are embedded in the floor and ceiling, and rainwater is collected and used for irrigation.


Recycled materials include aluminium cladding, cotton insulation and steel with recycled content.


The structure is designed to be assembled on site in one day.


Here's some more information from the architects:


XTEN Architecture 201 S. Santa Fe Ave. Suite 202 Los Angeles, CA 90012 T: 213.625.7002 F: 213.625.7004

Sapphire Gallery

Sapphire Gallery is an addition to an existing 1960’s modern house that seeks to wrap a growing art collection in a sculptural object of its own. The new structure is grafted onto the existing circulation/ gallery spine of the main house, extending it up to a second story for light and views. Lightweight, factory built trusses comprise the building structure, designed to be assembled on site in a day. Braced frames in each direction transfer shear and gravity loads to grade, and the resultant second story cantilevers allow for a minimal footprint and landscaping to connect the various courts and gardens on the property.


Sandwiching the steel frames is a building façade system that was developed to provide solar protection for the art while still allowing for visual connections to the lush hillside gardens. The South façade and inclined roof are clad in monocrystaline solar cells that are customized into a diamond array, a pattern that continues on the East and West facades of the building as perforated aluminum cladding to screen the solar gain. This pattern is echoed in a ceramic frit gradient applied to the double pane glass to modulate the natural daylight. Integrated with the structure between these two layers are specialized shutters that adjust to the amount of exterior sunlight and help regulate the temperature inside.


The gallery partitions are independent from the building structure to allow for flexibility in staging the galleries in the future. Heating and cooling are achieved through radiant floor and ceiling systems embedded into the concrete decks. Rainwater is collected from the roof runoff and recycled as gray water for the irrigation system. Recycled materials include the aluminum cladding, fly ash used in the concrete decking, cotton insulation, permeable paving and steel with recycled content for all the framing -- high performance systems and materials put in the service of an overall spatial experience that protects and foregrounds the art while allowing for views to the surrounding hills.


Architect: XTEN Architecture
Principals: Monika Haefelfinger & Austin Kelly, AIA
Client: Frederick & Julie Reisz
Project Name: Sapphire Gallery
Project Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Rendering Credits: XTEN Architecture



Posted on Friday January 2nd 2009 at 10:36 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • xtiaan

    that is SOOOOO 2008…

    a picture giving a little context as to how it fits with the rest of the house would have been nice

    why does dezeen always post nearly identical pics? youll do one wide screen, zoom in a little and post that as well, whats the point? give us a different pic instead. The people here are all quite visually literate, its not like your fooling anyone that there are more pics than the same posts at other design sites, if indded that is why you insist on doing it.

  • ericwest

    Quote xtiaan :
    “The people here are all quite visually literate, its not like your fooling anyone that there are more pics than the same posts at other design sites, if indded that is why you insist on doing it.”

    I really think the same. Common dezzen it is 2009 ALREADY. More friendly, more comfortable ?! :)

  • Oh I LOVE that! I want to live there!

    Actually, I don’t – I have a terrible habit of slipping tea, I’d only ruin it!

    Great ’08 review posts btw, looking forward to what ’09 has in store for us

  • Hmmm i think its great, i like the sketch :)

  • Ouch!

    Anyways, I’ve got to agree with Xtiaan. Also, this project wud have been better presented with physical models. What’s wrong with that, it seems like everyone has turned to 3Ds. I think smaller projects like houses with not-so-UNstudio or not-so-Hadid forms have their charm, and shouldn’t be tempted to give in to the devil side of computer visualization.

    Also, my opinion is that the diagonal bracings are way too emphasized. Another project very similar to SANAA’s.

  • nixie

    xtiaan, exactly how many renderings do you expect the architects to do of such a small- essentially 3-room building? i think the project is described fairly well- i appreciate the inclusion of the plans.

    and please- sooo ’08? given the project, i’d be hard pressed to imagine a more imbecilic criticism.

    that said- the project looks great, though i wonder if the shoehorning of such ambitious structural, cladding and mechanical systems can be executed in such a fashion that the finished product lives up the images.

  • vampire

    agree with joaquin that diagonal bracings are way too emphasized. it’s not a classic form, disturbing the exhibition and it’s tired if have to be with everyminute

  • xtiaan


    uh nixie

    I wasnt wanting yet more pretty pix i was lamenting the fact that that dezeen posts multiple copies of the SAME pictures
    and ther fact that NONE of the pictures show the space in context (given that its an extension on an existing building)
    as for my so 2008 it was made on jan 2 2009, please turn on your irony detectors…

    remember next time : engage brain THEN type

  • mln

    you can see images of the sapphire gallery in actual production on xten’s website in the reproduction images the art works shown are actual pieces of the client’s.

  • riad algeria

    lovin it !!