When Tim Tattu, a Zen Buddhist monk and hospice nurse at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, approached me to design a house for him, he had two very specific needs: the first was for the house to be as sustainable as possible; the second was for it to be sexy – because even a monk/male nurse wants to have fun from time to time.
Bored with a design for a generic box of a house that came with the purchase of the lot, Tim gave me a simple yet evocative sketch depicting his intent, which began an ongoing interaction that shaped his home. It occurred to me that the process was akin to fermentation.
The primary fermentation was the interaction between the architect and the client. We met several times a month, working through the scheme, moving from boxes to circles, and finally to hexagons, fine-tuning with each iteration to achieve greater livability.
Once the design was filtered through the permit process, the secondary fermentation began. Over the course of a year, the interaction between the client and the contractor, which was fundamentally about costs and logistics, translated the drawings – the by-product of the primary fermentation – into the Tattuplex.
The end result of this collaboration combines exactly what Tim was hoping for the project – for sustainability, the use of prefab steel cut directly from Revit files reduced construction waste; the insulated panels, deep overhangs, and operable windows reduced energy consumption; and the herb and vegetable garden – fed both by compost and soon-to-be installed rain cisterns, provides Tim with home-grown meals.
As for sexy, Tim has listed both units on AirBnB; he lives in whichever one is not rented, giving him not only the lack of attachment his Zen practice demands, but – with a steady stream of renters from Europe, Asia, and beyond – exactly the social life he was seeking.