The design meets the unique needs of one of the most housing-precarious segments of our society: transitional-aged youth who have recently emerged from foster care. Without a credit history or family network, options for housing in California’s least affordable housing market are virtually nonexistent.
This 5,000 square-foot, eight-unit complex planned for a beach side Southern California city eschews both the dormitory conditions of typical transitional housing and the dingbat courtyard of the surrounding residential fabric. The basic module for the project was generated following conversations with participants in a local program serving transition aged youth. Former foster kids emphasized privacy, security, and social connection as essential domestic characteristics and those became the basis for individual units.
Units were then organized in geometric primitives, which provide each resident a space of their own that can be altered to meet their specific needs. Optimized for prefabrication, L-shaped units in two plan configurations provide a public downstairs and a sleeping loft, acknowledging that some of these resident kids may also have kids. Large windows at the second level provide natural light and allow the unit to remain open to cross ventilation. The units are clad with factory painted corrugated metal siding rain screen, placed at a slight bias to create a spiraling effect between the buildings.
Terraces are provided at the second level of each unit, reclaiming a portion of the site area taken up by the building as private outdoor space. The spaces between these clusters form courtyards and shared living spaces that reinforce the social program of the project. Some of these communal spaces are shaded by trellis-like roof elements and solar panels that, in turn, power the units. This project offers a promising solution for other housing-precarious groups in Los Angeles seeking a safe, affordable place to live.