Spellbinding Calif. 'sandcastle' beach house for sale for $27.5M


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Mar 20, 2023

Spellbinding Calif. 'sandcastle' beach house for sale for $27.5M

Self-taught architect and surfer Harry Gesner 's Malibu, CA, estate is

Self-taught architect and surfer Harry Gesner's Malibu, CA, estate is available for the first time, for $27.5 million.

Built by hand in 1974, the six-bedroom home comes with 122 feet of beach frontage. The circular, wood-and-glass structure was designed to capture Pacific Ocean views from every room.

"Sandcastle," as Gesner's family home is known, is situated next to his most famous creation, the Wave House—built for his friend Gerry Cooper.

Inspired by the sandcastle his son built on the beach, Gesner's groundbreaking design quickly became a Malibu icon.

"The most famous of my father's work is the iconic Cooper Wave House next door to our Sandcastle," Zen Gesner tells us in a recent phone interview. "He designed it in the late 1950s while sitting offshore of the lot, on his balsa longboard, with a grease pen. Once he had sketched it out on the board, he paddled in and transferred it to paper, and brought it to life."

Zen says his father "had a vision of building something that would blend in with the environment, the coastline, and surf, and it would evolve through the years."

Harry died in 2022 at the age of 97.


Sandcastle's spectacular living area boasts a wood-beamed ceiling, walls of windows, and an enormous brick fireplace with a polished concrete hearth that Harry built as a stage for his wife, actress Nan Martin.

"I have always had an incredible respect for his originality," Zen says about his father's unconventional approach to architecture. "His early move into environmental architecture and design, as well as the use of recycled building materials, was decades before its time."


The cylindrical kitchen wraps around a circular island and boasts stained-glass lunettes in the overhead beams, along with a cozy fireplace and breakfast bar.

There are two en suite bedrooms on the first floor. Upstairs, the primary suite features a soaring ceiling, beams, eyebrow windows, and a brick fireplace.

Sandcastle is built on a little cove, 4 miles north of Trancas Canyon.

"It was a magical place with no straight lines—mostly circles, multiple levels, and outer structures, winding upward like a treehouse," Zen says.


The home was built from materials Harry salvaged and repurposed to spectacular effect: wall panels made from aqueduct pipes, maple wood rescued from an old high-school gym, old-growth redwood harvested in the 1800s, and windows and doors saved from one of Hollywood's silent film theaters.

"My father built our family house almost entirely out of reclaimed materials that had lived a prior life somewhere else," Zen says. "He preferred to use the reclaimed wood in his houses, because it had a soul to it and would sometimes be of a better quality than any new lumber that you could buy at the lumber yard. These practices influenced the way I look at everything. Waste not, recycle, and reuse when able."


A solarium with stained-glass panels, a wraparound deck, and a covered terrace offer unmatched sunset views.

The 1-acre property includes a treehouse apartment with ocean views, a one-bedroom boathouse, and an apartment "nest" above an indoor-outdoor cabana.

Zen recalls visiting job sites with his dad and says his best memories involve checking out a client's piece of land for the first time. Gesner says he has photos of his father sketching out his initial impressions.

"He’d bring a chair and sit alone on the property for hours, taking note of everything there—the way the sun rose and set each day, the direction the prevailing wind would blow from, the wildlife that would wander through, any large trees or boulders that he could incorporate into the eventual design of the house, how to make the house feel organically born and rooted at that location," Zen reminisces.

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Harry Gesner Gerry Cooper Zen Gesner Nan Martin