Porto, PT | Rotterdam, NL
The two predominant agents at work in shaping the architectural and urban fabric of Los Angeles are the homestead and the automobile. Over time, these two forces have created a unique urban condition that is unlike most other cities in the world; a suburban metropolis. This suburbanity is comprised of low densities of residential units per lot, the utter dominance of the automobile as a mode of transportation and the separation by zoning of commercial and residential districts leading to large distances between amenities. This project attempts to insert small-scale strategies into an existing fabric while increasing density just as the original dingbats once did. The typological colonization does not alter large parts of the city. Rather it creates multiple nodes spread across throughout the city, hopefully breeding further grassroots interventions, activations and valorizations. This Dingbat 2.0 does not set out to radically alter the way of life of Angelenos by requiring that they give up their cars and live in dense apartment blocks. Instead, it seeks to integrate these two central pillars of daily life into an architectural and urban fabric that also allows for the expression of the human scale through efficiency of design, while offering choices to deviate from auto dependency.
The Dingbat 1.0 was the result of the compromise between these two forces. It was one's private demesne tucked in amidst an ever expanding concrete landscape. The car, rather than the person, became the generator of and interface between the private architectural realm and the public urban spaces. The block in West Hollywood, by virtue of having multiple housing typologies present ranging from single family dwelling, through the ubiquitous Dingbat to the contemporary expression of communal living, the apartment building, is a prime example of the conflict between housing the person and housing the car. From an urban perspective, this project has as its aim, the humanization of the scale of the city, the densification of the urban fabric, the increase of both public and private green space and the introduction of small scale, local businesses (currently strung along two major traffic corridors) into the residential districts. The creation of more "urban" (as opposed to the existing suburban condition) neighborhoods cannot deny the importance of the automobile. Therefore, the strength of this proposal does not lie in the relegation of the car in favor of more ecologically friendly modes of transportation (walking, biking, metro, etc.) but rather in lifting up these modes to the same level of convenience as the automobile.
The design is driven by the reactivation of the long neglected ground plan. Rather than devoting itself entirely to parking or to occupation by single units, it is freed to the public to claim as they wish. Commercial space begins to provide new destinations between the major shopping and entertainment stretches near the site, catering specifically to the various cultural groups in the area that are drawn to its lively atmosphere. Cars are removed from the ground and stacked on the side of the building, allowing for an even more direct access to one's unit. The space in between the buildings at the rear, created by the setbacks, is appropriated and unified; each lot provides space for new amenities accessible by the whole block and varying from pool access to children's play areas. Units are limited to (3) per floor and stacked (4) stories hig, allowing for good views and cross ventilation. There are a wide range of unit types in each structure from studios to three bedrooms and including live/work units with special features (direct access to the roof or ground). The roof is given to the units as common space and includes a laundry room as well as lounging space and raised planters for people who wish to grow their own food. Several tried and true sustainable features including solar arrays and heat tubes are assigned space. Overall, the design seeks to reflect a diversified Angeleno way of life, with constant variation in proximity, adjacency, amenity and a new perception of the value of the ground with special consideration to the impact on our way of living by the automobile we so cherish, but looking to the future and supporting alternate modes of transport which we can all grow to love.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Los Angeles [US-CA]