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Habitat 825: A Modern LA Apartment Complex
Located next to the historic Schindler House is Habitat 825, a residential complex focused on community, light and open space. The Schindler House is recognized as the first modern house in Los Angeles; and Habitat 825 compliments it nicely with its own distinctive modern style — LA-based LOHA Architects approached it through their own eco-lens, equipping the complex with sustainable features, energy-efficient and bright. Additionally, Habitat 825 deftly maneuvers around critical issues of density, site planning and issues associated with a close proximity to a historical building.
Massed into two L-shaped buildings that surround a common courtyard, the 19-apartment complex was designed to facilitate outdoor gathering among its residents. Two entrances into the courtyard, one from the street, and another that faces the Schindler house provide excellent circulation for both people and air. The complex is set back slightly from the front sidewalk, leaving public open space and a well-defined entrance. Access to each apartment is gained through the central courtyard, which eliminates the need for climate-controlled corridors. This also encourages communication and chance meetings between the residents. A sub-grade parking deck takes care of cars and storage.
Light wells allow sunlight to filter down to each apartment, especially the first floor. All the units have windows on both sides, allowing for ample daylight as well as cross ventilation. The choice of black on the southern exposure was made as an architectural proclamation, but could potentially have some benefit with regards to solar passive design. The lime green walls were a nod to nature, while the white is used to help bounce light down to the lower units. Local managed forests produced the redwood siding, and a rainscreen helps minimize the need for repair on the complex. The rainscreen will also help cool the building by allowing air movement between the cladding and the building.
In deference to the Schindler House nearby, a number of design elements were included to be sensitive to the famous house. To avoid casting a shadow on the Schindler House, the north side of Habitat 825 was reduced to 2 stories, while the south has 3 stories. The complex also bends inwards, away from the Schindler House to “allow it more breathing room” which incidentally, also draws more attention to the open space. Habitat 825’s architectural style also compliments the Schindler House’s modern style with its own clean lines and courtyard space.
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