- 2012 AIACC Design Award
- Location Santa Monica, CA
- Type Housing
- Area 33,000SF
- Completion 2007
- Client Community Corporation of Santa Monica
High density, low-rise workforce housing in Los Angeles is pulled by two dissimilar models. The first is the ubiquitous type of Southern California low-cost rental housing—the dingbat apartment—
characterized by surface parking facing the street, exterior circulation, and a single, thematic ornament. The second is a broader notion of workforce housing, informed by the siedlung tradition of post-war European housing, guided by geometric regularity, access to natural light and ventilation, and privacy at the level of the individual unit.
The Tahiti Affordable Housing complex, which replaces a deteriorated dingbat complex, provides critically needed housing for low income families in Santa Monica and incorporates important elements from both traditions. The complex balances privacy with community building via a geometric regularity that has been innovatively extruded to grant each unit access to natural light and ventilation. Six three-level buildings are connected by courtyards via ramps and gardens; shared courtyards are distributed throughout giving access to outdoor space to all the residents. The bridge and walkway system connects the buildings and allows residents to interact with neighbors, experience the everyday rhythm of the complex yet maintain individual privacy.
Designed to exceed LEED standards, the site is organized so that all storm water is directed to a central water retention and recharge basin. Over this reservoir lies a timber bamboo forest crisscrossed by bridges at two levels. The cool microclimate established by this bamboo grove improves natural ventilation in the units and enhances the ecology and natural environment by reclaiming site area that was formerly asphalt paving. Designed to facilitate extremely low energy use, each unit has access to daylight on three sides, allowing natural light to fill the units throughout the day.
To accommodate two- and three-bedroom units and give each room maximum exposure to natural light the units are flipped and staggered in alternating buildings. None of the units have mechanical air conditioning; each unit relies on natural ventilation and passive cooling.
The project was initiated by the Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a locally based, non-profit organization committed to developing and managing affordable housing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
- 2012 AIACC Design Award