Soli Yamini, Structural Engineer

Los Angeles, California

Year Completed:

A Couple Of Lofts

These three residential units are located in the Ocean Park district of Santa Monica, California.  Because the city of Santa Monica is opposed to high and medium density and has an architectural review board that controls the appearance of every building in the city, working with the zoning codes required a great deal of ingenuity.  For a number of reasons (our belief in greater urban density, people’s desire to live in homes which include both working and living spaces), we wanted to propose an alternative to the prototypical single family home which is so prevalent in Southern California.  These units were thus designed to provide a middle ground between free-standing homes and conventional apartments or condominiums.

All three units, which differ in size and lay-out, consist of three levels: a loft-like space on the ground floor, a multi-use mezzanine on the second level which most residents use for office space plus a third level with a more conventional arrangement of bedrooms and bathrooms.  By combining the non-traditional living space on the first floor with more conventional sleeping quarters on the third, we came up with the idea of a hybrid loft, a unique combination of open living and working spaces with greater privacy and independence in the upper rooms.  The three units are organized around and above a central parking space on the ground floor.  Surface parking, rather than underground parking, adds to a feeling of informality and eases the relationship with the public domain.  Each unit also has its own private outdoor space on the ground floor and the roof, giving the lofts the feeling of a single family home.

The building was constructed with Type V construction, a combination of concrete footings, steel columns and a conventional wood frame.  In designing this project, we were more concerned with the quality and the configuration of space than with expensive details and finishes.  As a consequence, each room is distinguished by a special spatial quality (integrated balconies, vaulted ceilings) which is then finished simply.