My thesis design project was a series of rental units along a cliff site in south Laguna Beach, CA. The project consists of a upper public gardens and walkway, an office for management, a cafe for the guests as well as visitors to site and neighboring community, and the rental units themselves situated along the edge of the site overlooking the ocean.
For my thesis, I really wanted to choose a concept that I cared about, something that I believed in. And out of that came the concept to design on the coast of California in a way that had not been done before; a way that would respect the user, the pedestrian, and the site itself.
So much of the current coast has been lost to buildings that it is now possible to travel for miles at a time directly along the coast and never really see the ocean itself.
We have erected our homes and building to take advantage of the wonderful views the ocean provides, but in the process we are loosing what we loved in the first place and depriving others of the opportunity to experience it. Instead of ocean, we are greeted with garage doors; instead of sunsets, we now have gates.
There is a currently a strong division between what is public and what is private, and often the buildings we construct are the main cause as they sit between the public road and the public beach, creating an impassable wall that only helps to further a selfish entitlement in the user. With my work I addressed this by changing the barriers from a strict separation, to a gradient of zones from public to private. I wanted to situate my building not only into the site but into the neighborhood as well, providing public gardens and a cafe that the locals and users can walk to, and still enjoy the ocean views that have not been taken away.
It is also important for me to design in a sustainable “green” manner and I tried to bring that into my design wherever possible. In the landscaping through the use of water efficient native plants, to the passive heating and cooling of the units themselves. With that, light became an important consideration. Building on the coast we want the views to the ocean but typically in design, western light is the least efficient in green design. To counter this I designed a movable screen shading system that can adjust and shift with the sun as needed throughout the day, but not block views
Status: School Project
Location: Laguna Beach, CA, US