Condominiums over semi-subterranean parking.
Los Angeles, California
Design: Steffen Leisner, Ali Jeevanjee

The project is located in a multi-family area of Brentwood, Los Angeles. The residual of a three-way lot split, the site is only 47’-6”x75’-0”, less than half the size of a typical lot in this area.  The brief asked for the maximum permissible development on a severely constricted reverse corner lot on the last undeveloped parcel in a very desirable neighborhood.  There is a noteworthy disjunction here between high real estate values and the lack of quality of the existing building stock of 1970’s condominium construction.

Multi-family housing design poses a fundamental problem in the negotiation of exterior envelope composition with interior programmatic relationships.  Economically and functionally driven projects result in designs devoid of traditional notions of order, a condition typical of late 20th century multi-family neighborhoods in Los Angeles.  Our design addresses this issue by critically embracing the appearance of disorder.  The use of a rigorously structured module of windows and metal panels provides visual structure as well as economies of repetition.  Moreover, the creation of an irregular textural language allows the positioning of exterior openings in relation to interior spaces without being tied to traditional methodologies of façade composition.

The project challenges existing notions of public/private hierarchy within residential spaces by creating discreet ‘privacy boxes’ in one continuous ‘public’ space.  Each box is a fully self-contained private zone, including a bedroom, closet and bathroom. These boxes are distributed throughout the units, in plan and section, to provide greater public/ private interaction and to engender 24-hour activation of all zones of the unit.  The public spaces within the building are thus defined as the negative space resulting from the careful arrangement of the objectified boxes, creating heightened spatial interest within the units.

Due to the extremely constricted nature of the site, a radical strategy was necessary to accommodate all of the service elements of the three units in a compact and elegant fashion.  A central service core concealed within the main party wall was devised to solve this problem and to create a spatial structure shared by all three units.  This core contains various service functions as well as the entire vertical circulation systems of both upper units.  By concealing all of these elements within a tightly packed core, the living spaces are free-flowing and entirely uncluttered by circulation or functional items, allowing the public/private diagram to be expressed.