XYZ Small Lot

Venice CA

Architecture,  Construction, Landscape, Entitlements

Completed 2019

2020 AIA|LA Residential Architecture Award

Photos: Eric Staudenmaier

The single family house is the dwelling type most characteristic of Los Angeles, but land is no longer plentiful, and housing is in short supply, so new typologies are needed to explore how to design within a smaller footprint. These three single-family houses occupy a 4,500 square foot lot fronting the street that once was the Grand Canal of Venice of America. The parcel map to subdivide the property was approved under the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance, enacted by the City of Los Angeles in 2005, which allows single family houses to be constructed with modified setback requirements and parking easements within the subdivision. The intention of the ordinance is to encourage densification while increasing the potential for home ownership by allowing for smaller homes on smaller lots.

Each house has its own identity and occupies a distinct parcel of land with a pedestrian gate at the sidewalk and roll-up door for parking access from the alley. The X and Y houses face the street, while the Z house is behind adjacent to the alley. Two thirty-foot tall L-shaped plaster walls are the primary organizational elements. These windowless walls separate the houses from one another and form an axial passageway from the street to the alley house. The houses vary in size, and each has a unique typological character: Live/Work, Family and Loft. Private roof patios, shielded from one another by the placement of roof structures and the sloped roof of the alley house, occupy the top level of all three houses.