The always-interesting MAD Architects' first US project is nearing completion (the Lucas Museum is still a few years away yet). Located in Beverly Hills, California, Gardenhouse is a luxury residential development that aims to offer its residents the tranquility of living in a small hilltop village, while retaining the conveniences of city life.

Gardenhouse consists of a large podium that serves as an artificial hill, with a total of 18 houses placed atop it. And, though it looks a bit bare at the moment, once completed, the podium will be covered in native, drought-tolerant greenery. At ground level it will provide commercial spaces to rent.

While this arrangement could result in impressive views for residents, to go with the high-end accommodation on offer, the noise of people and traffic passing below may spoil the illusion of living peacefully in nature.

Will residents really get any meaningful sense of rural life from this inner-city project? It's hard to say until it's finished, but the attempt reflects MAD's interest in blending architecture with nature – a theme that runs deep in the firm.

"We want to bring the green atmosphere into what would traditionally be considered compact, condo living, by breaking down the scale and massing of the building," says MAD. "Rather than develop architecture where nature exists around the building, we want to give residents the experience of being in the middle of nature, while they enjoy the conveniences of big city living."

Gardenhouse's 18 homes will consist of three townhouses, two studios, five villas, and eight condominiums – all carefully arranged to create the feeling of living in a small secluded neighborhood. Balconies and patios extend over an inner courtyard and the facades will be opaque from the street but transparent on the side facing the private gardens and other residential units.

Gardenhouse is due to be completed later this year.

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