Archives for category: architecture

This project aggressively/lovingly attacked/celebrated the Los Angeles suburban condition.  I believe that architecture has an intelligence that rarely is applied by those who build the most; developers.


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An exercise in throwing together collages as placeholders representing new ways of living inspired by old icons of L.A.  Not literal but fun to imagine, houses don’t have to look like houses.

What is the role of the architect in the house?  It cannot be denied that people identify with their homes.  We live in them and somehow we become a part of them and they of us.  The house stands as it is and we take from it.  But the desire to affect it is there.  Half a century since the GI Bill, suburbanites have proven that individuality will show through.  But options are limited to whatever can be obtained from Home Depot or a more aggressive re-model.  So they paint, they garden, they buy lawn ornaments, they build barbeques.  The architect gave them very few options.  What would a different option look like?  A different skeleton for a different lifestyle, a platform for customization.  A built-in (re)model…  New models have been attempted, but they are based on a belief that privacy is the key ingredient.  What about the people who aren’t hiding?  Who aren’t afraid to show who they are and what they stand for?  Those bold creative rebels, the kind of people who choose to live in Los Angeles could be the very models that offer something different.

To facilitate customizability over customized housing, the new model must both allow for a non-average lifestyle while maintaining its flexibility.  To make sure that these houses can accommodate many but be customized individually, the ubiquitous Mexican Loteria cards are (re)appropriated, as they had been before into a zombie form of French Tarot, to depict icons, characters, and structures of what has become embedded Los Angeles culture.  The cards are drawn and the combinations “read” to reveal a skeleton house incorporating the intestines of L.A.  These are neither the cookie cutter pitched roofs of traditional tracts or the sleek united fronts of modernist tracts.  They are individualized, on display, not afraid to show their bones.

It is often the perception of the masses, or at least the mass media, that the outcasts, peripherals and dangerous most fucked up elements of society are living in the urban wasteland, the downtown bars and alleys, perpetuating crime, noise, and bad taste.  Therefore, the normal, well-adjusted Americans reside in the quiet suburbs, a place of restrained moderation.  Of course, on premise alone, this is ridiculous, the dangerous elements of society, as well as the happy well-adjusted (doesn’t exist) elements come with all faces, and live in all places.  Every time a meth lab is busted or a wife-beater carted off, we are reminded that suburbia is a mask.

In Los Angeles in particular, there is no urban condition, there is only suburban.  All elements live in suburbia, a sprawling, overlapping mish-mash of dominate and subordinate cultures.  If we are to approach housing in a way that directly speaks outside of what has been heretofore accepted as “normal,” we must create a new way of generating these houses that takes the so-called non-culture culture of L.A. directly into account.  Bungalow be damned.

Loteria is a game played commonly in Los Angeleno Mexican homes.  Similar to BINGO, as cards are drawn, they are announced to players who hope to mark off the corresponding squares on their gridded sheet of images to become the winner.  However, this game lends itself to being reappropriated to the French tradition of tarot, in which each image when drawn holds significance to the person in question, and, in addition, shift their significance according to the adjacent cards drawn.

By creating my own set of Loteria cards depicting aspects of Los Angeleno (sub)cultures in the categories of architectonic, character and objects, and an outside category of visual apparati for architecture, I draw and then interpret the chosen combination.  We’ll see what wants to be.

Here’s a little mashup I did of the combined facades of the three blocks in Mar Vista that comprise the Gregory Ain tract there.  Along the way, I ran into a friend who had come by just at the same time to peep a decrepit backyard of the worst house in the lot which is awaiting a total remodel by it’s new owner.  This particular backyard contains one of the pools said to be used by the famous Dogtown Z-Boys.

Scroll ’em big by clicking open the image then clicking again for zoom.

It is often said that Los Angeles has no culture.  No one from Los Angeles says this.  For generations, this city has been the destination for non-conformists, creatives, independents, REBELS.  It’s the last stop west.  A place where you can be whoever you are, or whoever you want to be.  The weirdos come here, and, as a result, we are a culture of weird.  It has been the birthplace of so many counter cultures that they now are the culture.  Surfers, hot rodders, hippies, cholos and starlets.  So why, in a city of artists and rebels, do we expand expand expand the suburban sprawl sprawl sprawl of generic sameness, intended for average people with average families?  We are not average.  We love our suburban houses, we love our backyard barbeques and our driveways, but must they be so average?  Los Angeles deserves a new model of suburbia designed for the Los Angeleno.