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SITE: gently sloping mid-block site in a neighborhood where the original small single-family dwellings are being systematically replaced by Mediterranean Style duplexes that take advantage of the R2 zoning.

PROGRAM: duplex condominium residence

SIZE: 4,100 ft2 (total)

COST: $600,000

COMPLETION: Spring 2005

NOTES: type V construction: wood platform framing on steel superstructure on cmu retaining walls and cast-in-place concrete spread footings; aluminum sliding glass door system throughout; stucco and pressure treated lumber exterior cladding

PUBLICATIONS: remember LA Times featured listing…

PROJECT TEXT: In terms of spatial organization, this project represents an intermediate state in the progression from the typical suburban house, with its multitude of individual rooms, to a pure loft-type spatial organization, in which all the activities of the household are conducted in a single large room. There are functional advantages and lifestyle implications to each, which this scheme deploys to its benefit. The privacy gradient of the multi-room model is preserved in this scheme’s multi-platform organization, for example, while the openness and flexibility of the loft model is assured through the use of sliding panels, rather than fixed partitions.

Within the space captured between two major exterior walls running the length of the buildable area of the lot are a series of upper-level platforms spanning from wall to wall. These platforms hold the bedrooms and bathrooms, and define, as ceilings, the programmed living spaces below. As they reach across these living spaces the platforms divide the continuity of the house into alternating bands of varied spatial affect—“secure” spaces with low ceilings alternating with “expansive” spaces in the intervening vertically-proportioned areas. The spatial definition is further reinforced by systems of sliding panels running transversely, along the sides of the platforms, which permit enclosure as required or complete openness if desired, and by program pods interspersed among these spaces, which house the activity-specific support elements of the house, like the bathrooms and kitchen.

The platforms seem to hold the exterior walls apart, as if responding to the pressures of the neighborhood to conform. These pressures are not inconsiderable, given the Design Guidelines of the Architectural Design Review Board, which aggressively promote a developer-Mediterranean formalism for all new construction. This project will avoid that fate by hiding behind a screen of landscaping. The longitudinal exterior walls are configured to support a mantle of greenery, with an overlapping grid of horizontal ribs and vertical stanchions to support a future carpet of blooming vines. Meanwhile, until the vines grow in, the highly articulated surfaces will revel in their machinic anti-Mediterraneanism.