Low Rise LA

Close to 50% of Los Angeles is land zoned for single family housing. And nearly 40% of that land cannot be built on due to setback restrictions. How can rethinking land use create housing that is as desirable as it is attainable?

A winning entry in the Low-Rise LA competition, How to Build* Our Own Living Structures is a proposal for creating missing middle housing through changing how we think of built and void space across residential lots.

From Setbacks to Courtyards

Our design takes the form of a reimagined bungalow court, full of inviting pockets of outdoor space scaled for individuals and for collectives. Reorienting the concept of zoning from setbacks to courtyards allows for more flexibility of where to build, preserving shared access to light and views while densifying in other areas.

From Walls to Rooms

Different units are separated with rooms (both indoor and outdoor) rather than walls. Interior separating rooms can be exchanged between neighbors based on the needs of inhabitants as they change over time. The common party wall becomes a changing room: to accommodate a new baby on the way, a student leaving for college, or an aging parent needing care.

The units are constructed with mass plywood panels. The inside corner opens up a private courtyard, pulling interior space to the exterior, and vice versa.

The design blends in with the existing neighborhood with its borrowed roof forms, window shapes, and materials. Yet it also stands out through the multi-directional composition of these elements, resembling a village.

Density is a unique challenge in L.A. that cannot be addressed by simply building taller, but rather by first questioning the way we make claim to and share the use of land. The line is codified through zoning to create separation rather than opportunity and prioritizes the dominance of commercial instruments such as streets and property values.

Our design proposal transforms edge conditions from a line of division to a tool that can be shaped towards mutually beneficial relationships – between residents, between neighbors, and between community members. Ultimately, the design is a collection of nested ideas for rethinking zoning that aims to transform the city at large.

Project Team (1+1+ Architects): De Peter Yi, Laura Marie Peterson, Matthew Crilley
Press: Low Rise LA Winners Announced

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