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Habitat 15 in Hollywood, California by Predock Frane Architects (designed using AutoCAD and Rhino)
March 6th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Predock Frane Architects
DESIGN INTENT: Working within the context of a for-profit MUR creates a particular set of parameters; programmatic, physical, and client/cost informed. Our solution is two 4-story buildings placed parallel to the street. Between them is a courtyard, reached via a tunnel through the first building, accommodating shared public space and circulation. The simple cubic shape of the buildings allowed for greater project resources to be deployed to the sectional relations within the units. The separation into two buildings allows half of the unit’s access to light on three sides.
Site Conditions: 2 standard mid block lots in Hollywood, south of Sunset, West of La Brea. Bordered by a 4-story MUR to the South and West, a 2-story MUR to the North, and a nursery to the East.
Program: 15 Townhouse style condominium units; five 2-story units accessed at the street level, ten 3-story units accessed at the third level via stairs and an elevator and a 37 space subterranean parking garage.
The townhouse configuration further allows a maximum number of units to be located on the upper levels with greater access to view and light, while the 5 lower level units have exaggerated ceiling heights and open on all sides to the adjacent outdoor spaces. Light penetration is further enhanced in the upper units via room scaled skylights that channel the sky deep into the units. This vertical overlapping of spaces creates complex light play and enlarges the sense of territory occupied by each unit. Spatial separation is further augmented by orienting the public spaces of the Detroit facing building towards the street while giving the second building ‘visual ownership’ of the upper courtyard, separated from the first by a bamboo screen. The varying size (based on client standards) and location of the exterior enhances the sense of separation by avoiding overlapping views between units while simultaneously extending views beyond the site. Conversely from the exterior they deny the unitized tendency of MUR’s, giving the entire building a singular identity.
The building utilizes double wall construction, vertical heat stack effect cooling via the multi-story volumes, abundant natural lighting, rainwater catchment and redeployment, and environmentally harvested materials.
Habitat 15 project description
The Habitat 15 project is a four story, 15-unit infill housing project at the foot of the Hollywood Hills 1/2 block West of La Brea, and North of Fountain Avenue. Each unit is between 1200 and 2000 square feet. The project is divided into two separate buildings West and East, with a central courtyard acting as both a buffer and connection between them.
The design process was a highly interactive negotiation between the architect and client. The client developed a short list of critical details and product resources for the architect to work within. After several explorations the architects arrived at the maximum unit count composed of a ground level “base” of loft-like units, with 11′ plus ceilings, and three story townhouse-like units above. Essential in the process was a constant awareness of fundamental issues such as acoustical separation, lateral strength, and clear interior organization. From this simple diagram, the project is invigorated with overlapping sectional volumes and a multi central/social space via the green wall and “sky yards”. In developing the project within the client’s list of details and resources, the architects were able to work within a clear set of parameters that helped guide decisions such as window type/size, exterior finish criteria, and essential unit amenities. Resources were consequently amplified and focused on the unit interiors and the Detroit Street facade. The project is deceptively simple – the rectangular exterior forms reveal an interior of multi-story interlocking and spatially dynamic volumes.
A subterranean parking podium maximizes the lot area, and accommodates the required number of parking spaces. The ground floor level, which is accessed through the central courtyard, consists of five units that take advantage of their “at grade” position by opening onto their adjacent private outdoor spaces. Each also has a second floor accommodating an additional bedroom. The remaining ten units are configured vertically like townhouses. The entries to these units are accessed via stairs and an elevator to the third floor walkway that connects the units. Once inside, the units are organized with main spaces such as living and dining on the third level and bedrooms either downstairs on the second level or up a flight of stairs to the fourth level. The units maximize the allowable vertical height with double height ceilings and triple height skylights over the living and dining areas. The West building’s living spaces look out towards Detroit Street and the Hollywood Hills as their front yard. The East building’s living spaces look into the courtyard which acts as a visual “sky yard” through the use of a 4-story green wall of landscape. This visual barrier also shields the entries into the West building from the gaze of the East fenestration.
Predock_Frane Architects was established by Hadrian Predock and John Frane in the year 2000 as a collaborative research and development design studio. The work of their practice ranges from small scale installations to large public venues. Seeking to open new territories for locality and specificity, they utilize a process of “generative repetition” – a methodology that focuses on mapping specific existing morphologies, actions, systems, and material conditions, then generating and forecasting new architectural results based upon their findings.
Predock_Frane was named one of ten emerging architectural firms by Architectural Record, and in 2005, as one of six emerging international firms by the Architectural League in New York. They were selected to represent the United States in the US Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, participated in the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial – Design Life Now, and recently had exhibitions at the LA Forum Gallery in Los Angeles, and Pomona College Museum of Art.
Sustainability has been a driving force in Predock Frane’s design practice since its inception, and a thorough integration of intelligent environmental strategies underpins all of their work. Rather than applying a monolithic solution, the most efficient approach is carefully assessed for each individual project. Notable sustainable projects include the Center for Gravity Foundation Hall (using locally sourced materials, rammed earth walls for full passive/diurnal heat measures, a geothermal closed loop system for radiant heating, and multiple day lighting strategies which almost entirely eliminate the need for artificial light), the Guadalajara International Book Fair Pavilion (utilizing locally sourced, reusable shipping palettes to create a rich exhibition space that is entirely “re-lifed” when dismantled), and the recently designed public art installation for the city of Perth, Australia (creating an urban oasis that modulates the harsh local environment, enhances the performance of the plaza, and is entirely energy independent, making a strong public statement for civic responsibility).
John and Hadrian have taught at UCLA, Tulane and Berkeley. Predock_Frane’s work has won numerous awards including multiple Nation and Local American Institute of Architects Honor Awards. Their work has been published internationally, and they have lectured widely.
John Frane is a licensed Architect in the State of California; Hadrian Predock is a licensed Architect in the States of California and Arizona.
John Frane was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and received his BArch in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin. Hadrian Predock was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received his MArch in 1993 from Harvards Graduate School of Design.
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