Single Family Residence
Design: Steffen Leisner, Ali Jeevanjee, Philip Trigas
Photography: Christopher Culliton
1+3=1 HOUSE is located in an unusually dense residential neighborhood in Venice Beach, California. Single-family bungalows characterize the morphology of the urban fabric, with occasional social housing projects mixed in. The area is known for a history of gang activity, but also as a hub of the Los Angeles art scene. The clients are self-employed professionals who work primarily from home. One is an entrepreneur, and the other is an artist. Their programmatic needs call for a modest home office and a detached art studio.
A principal programmatic objective was maximizing building square footage while keeping the existing bungalow. A “subtractive design” strategy was employed: We utilized the maximum built volume permitted by the zoning envelope, then applied a series of strategic volumetric operations ensued to achieve client needs and architectural goals. The design strategy prompted a dynamic live-work complex that worked with an existing bungalow on site. Three independent volumes were established: A, located along the main road, B in the center and C in the rear. Volume A contains an office on the ground level, with a dedicated entry off of the front yard. Upstairs is a meditation room for the business owner. Volume B houses the living room on the ground level and the master suite upstairs. The living room has 12’-0” ceilings and large glazing that connects the interior to the courtyard. A central feature of the living room is the large projection wall, which serves to screen the stair leading up to the master suite. In the master suite, the sleeping area, master bath and closet are arranged in a single open space. At the rear of the lot, Volume C contains an art studio and a rental unit. The studio has its own entry off of the courtyard. It was designed with a large roll-up door for the ventilation of screen-printing vapors. The client also asked for a claw foot bathtub, which was installed on an elevated platform that leads up to the roof deck. To have an additional bachelor’s unit on the property, five parking spaces have to be provided, which led to the solution of providing courtyards that double as parking. Local code further regulates building height in such a manner that providing sloped roofs in lieu of flat ones allows an extra five feet in height, a factor that influenced the tectonic vocabulary of the project. Incorporating more usable area by cantilevering the buildings above the parking as well as day-lighting requirements for the courtyard-adjacent spaces resulted in the geometries of the office and art studio.
The project uses a passive cooling strategy to avoid to use of mechanical air conditioning: Ventilation at the high points of all spaces (chimney effect), as well as low emissivity glazing throughout. Radiant floor heating in the slab was used to minimize heat energy loss. The roof material was chosen as metallic reflective corrugated steel in an attempt to reflect solar energy.The construction system was driven by the client directive to achieve an affordable but maximum size project. In Southern California, this translates directly into wood frame construction. Materials: hard trowel stucco, corrugated metal roof, aluminum windows. Interiors use exposed framing, finish-grade plywood and exposed concrete topping slabs to maintain a rugged, industrial character.