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Single Family Dwelling

Los Angeles, CA 

This is a small infill house in a west Los Angeles neighborhood.  Based on massing studies testing the building’s performance in relation to site constraints, program, accessibility to sunlight, shading, stormwater management, and vegetation, the building is a simple L shaped volume that creates a south oriented courtyard with a swimming pool.  A ventilated rain screen under fiber cement cladding achieves above standard R-value and high efficiency glazing in thermally broken aluminum units create a high energy saving envelope.  The long configuration of the house and location of operable openings on opposite sides of each room is conducive to natural ventilation. All appliances and equipment are electric and powered by a roof top Solar PV system.  There is drought tolerant landscaping and a rainwater filtration planter to treat storm runoff. 


The primary design intent is to adamantly reject and subvert the clunky design standards of City of LA mansionization ordinance, which every single family zoned property is subject.  Mandated off-set planes along two story facades or encroachment planes that turn homes into pizza huts are NOT effective measures to starve large homes. In fact, they have the unintended consequence of eliminating the very things that give homes their personality…like dormers or gable ends with the misfortune of facing a common property line or bay windows.  Obsessive accounting of floor area adds little to the vitality of a house or by extension the quality of the community.  These ham-handed constraints only serve to create worst versions of the very McMansions being discouraged.    We understand the reaction to limit overbuilding that are shockingly out of step and seemingly oblivious to its own stumbling impacts.  We agree houses should be more efficient and thoughtful as it finds its place in the community.  But we refuse to fit into this cookie cutter and reject the over simplification of solutions.  As such, we propose a more deft approach that yields a richer expression of home. Our project utilizes a facade organization as connective matrix for competing constraints.  Polychrome stripes that alternate from opaque to transparent according to program (privacy and access to outdoors, natural light and ventilation).  While appearing random in widths, they actually follow the logic of optimized openings and material efficiency against solid walls in a way that is aggregated to reduce scale and mass.  A methodology that is far more effective at addressing neighborhood impacts than a single break in the building elevation at stipulated intervals.  It is an elegant and concise composition in contrast to the ad hoc shoehorning of a barn shape peg into a mansionization hole. 

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