Text By Morris Newman
Photography By Michael Arden
Outwardly, the Chang residence in Pasadena is an elegant new Modernist house designed by architect Adele Chang for herself, her husband and an adult daughter. But the house is something more: it is a kind of family portrait, with layers of personal and cultural meanings alike. “The house is about memory, among other things,” says the Taiwanese born, California trained designer, who is owner of the architectural firm of Lim Chang Rohling.
Recessed cabinets in the living room display antique jewelry and objects that serve as reminders of Chang’s family roots in Taiwan. Other details are equally personal: the arrangement of the upstairs bedrooms replicates the layout of rooms in an earlier family home. Still, at the bottom of all those meanings is the traditional Chinese home with its intimate connection to landscape.
As in some traditional Chinese houses, visitors first approach the house in an indirect way. As designed by Burbank based landscape architect Rob Pressman of TGP, Inc., visitors must navigate an L-shaped pathway to the front door. The indirect shaped path is a nod to the design philosophy of feng shui.
Little else seems traditional when one enters the front door. Spaciousness, formality and a clear visual orientation to a back yard that is one hundred feet deep greet the visitor. As a composition, the house is made up of long walls that continue from outside to inside, just like the walls of the Barcelona Pavilion, an experimental house built in the 1930s by Mies van der Rohe.
The formality of the house flows from the inside to the outdoors. The walls of the house extend deeply into the back, framing the yard and making it into a kind of courtyard. Pressman chose some characteristically Asian plants, such as gingko and bamboo, in the landscape and installed them with the same geometric rigor that informs the house.For more on Architect Adele Chang Draws, please pick up a copy of the February 2012 issue of California Homes Magazine.