RIC ABRAMSON AIA, DANIEL RUIZ,
VAN PHAM, CHASEN RAINEY
West Hollywood, CA
A neighborhood infill strategy for a 21st century pattern of living.
Built for a car-centric society, the Dingbat no longer speaks to a 21st century Los Angeles in which the current expansion of mass transit and interest in a cleaner environment continue to push away from a car-based culture. Yet as a prototype for development, it does retain a specific legacy – the dingbat housing type enables a denser form of infill whose variants and multiplication result in a hyper-specific urban patterning.
New urban visions for existing neighborhoods need not necessarily begin with post-apocalyptic scenarios that generate an urban tabula rasa. In fact, viable urban strategies can include more incremental strategies that introduce effective change one lot at a time.
This project poses a sustainable reconsideration of subdivision patterns, land use policies, occupancy, and infrastructural integration methods whose roots were originally set by the town of Sherman and later fully realized via infill of the “dingbat” type. This proposal examines five key issues (STREET, SITE, CAR, HOUSING TYPOLOGY, AND RESIDENTIAL OCCUPATION) that when addressed together form the basis for a 21st century infill neighborhood. Conventional residential solutions attempt to balance the car, pedestrian and urban image aspirations of a community. Unfortunately, continuous curb cuts are no longer viable and the West Hollywood site precludes known alley-based alternatives. However, rear yard utility easements already in place do provide an opportunity for reconfiguring familiar relationships. Therefore, this proposal inverts existing street usage patterns and suggests that, even in an existing urban context, pedestrian activity can be isolated and imbedded within the housing context itself. en marSh proposes the following:
• A new internally, embedded WALK STREET that combines with a reconceived STREET LOT and zone change recommendations to create a new landscape-buffered residential environment.
• Front and rear GREEN ZONES that replace conventional front yard and rear yard setbacks. Pass-thru PROMENADES on each lot connect the pedestrian walk street to the street lot and provide access to each dwelling’s front door between the green zones.
• Combined on site and off site PARKING options. At the scale of the neighborhood, a new landscaped “street lot” increases the number of spaces on the current “dingbat-resultant” street by at least 400%. At the scale of the lot itself, mechanically assisted car parking concepts further minimize the usual driveway paving and turning requirements for urban infill.
• Row house, townhouse and urban villa typologies introduce COLLECTIVE LIVING and SHARED INFRASTRUCTURE options not present in current zoning practice.
• A NEW SUBDIVISION STRATEGY expands the traditional SFD or MFD neighborhood density- based zoning by adding new RMS and CPN occupancy-based designations. Flexible ownership and rental structures (i.e. small lot subdivisions, courtyard cluster housing, naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC’s), co-housing concepts, etc.) can be integrated into housing types blurring distinctions between the individual and the collective and thus providing a wider spectrum for a lively neighborhood.
The en marsh proposal portends a residential future for a city that started as a marsh land. It moves away from the car-centered, Dingbat fabric of Los Angeles and envisions a bookended landscape condition for the housing that places a primacy on light, air and the re-appropriated potential of the ground plane.