Wandering Courtyard House

Zoning and planning regulations in single family residential lots reinforce the model of house as object, placed within a manicured lawn. Approached by an artist and entrepreneur couple to design a house to retire in, we reinterpreted zoning restrictions as design opportunities, creating a house with extraordinary spaces inside and out.

Located in Monterey Park, Los Angeles, Wandering Courtyard House  reinvents the common single family home typology into a courtyard house, maximizing the possibilities of outdoor living on a small and confined lot.

Between Inside and Outside

Adopting the symbolic shape of the moon commonly found in Asian gardens, the partially inscribed circle of the wraparound deck creates spaces perched between interior and exterior, inward and outward looking. While the street facing façade quietly announces its distinctive presence in the neighborhood, the yard facing facade fully opens to the city view beyond and invites unexpected forms of domestic life.

Moving House

Wandering House playfully subverts the logic of residential zoning setbacks, redirecting them from a set of prescribed rules into a source of design possibility. Starting from typical rectilinear forms that satisfy interior functions, the house rotates, bends, extends, kinks, and curves to "work around" its spatial limitations, but never fully breaking the rules. In this way, it advocates for seeing zoning regulations as not just static convention, but a tool of design.

Wandering Courtyard House collages typical framing construction and material assemblies into a series of spatial sculptures - an indoor grand stair, an outdoor spiral stair, a half-moon porch screen, and a pivoting display wall. These details balance quotidian comfort and artistic grandeur, satisfying the owners' desires to inhabit a space between art and life.

Design Collaborators: Yi Kai and Biao Biao Lu
General Contractor: MZ Construction
Collaborating Architect: 1+1+ Architects
Structural Engineer: HD Structural
Structural Consulting: JKL Structural
Grading/Drainage: Stewart Design and Engineering
Geotechnical: Terradyne
Photographs by De Peter Yi

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