Santa Monica-based architecture firm Daly Genik teamed with a local nonprofit agency to redevelop this low-rise apartment complex at an entrance to the I-10 freeway in downtown Santa Monica. The 35,000-square-foot site is now home to the Tahiti Housing Complex, which consists of 36 low-income housing units that share dramatic central courtyards and gardens. These units help families to live in the extraordinarily unaffordable West Side of Los Angeles, filling that need with architectural ingenuity.
High-density, low-rise workforce housing in Los Angeles is being redefined by developments like Daly Genik’s Tahiti Housing Complex. Private and public funding is used to develop, build, and manage affordable housing projects. These developments are often created to be owned collaboratively by the residence in order for the buildings to be respected and cared for throughout the years. The Tahiti Housing Complex is made up of two- and three-bedroom units, which are given to families that fall under a specific yearly income bracket.
Daly Genik specifically designed this affordable housing complex in order to maximize open space and create a more sustainable and pleasing atmosphere for the residents. Six three-level buildings are connected by a series of central ramps creating courtyards and garden areas for the residence to enjoy. The balconies flip-flop across the site in order to stagger natural daylight throughout the courtyards. This also helps to promote natural ventilation.
Other sustainable features that this LEED standard-designed complex include stormwater retention and maximizing open area that previously was paved. Also, none of the units in the complex are air conditioned and rely entirely on passive cooling techniques. One of these passive cooling techniques is the use of natural ventilation induced by a microclimate established by planting bamboo around a reservoir of water retained on the site.
So breathe in the modern aesthetic of the Tahiti Housing Complex the next time you’re driving by the 10 freeway onramp on Centinela Ave in Santa Monica. Imagine how amazing low-income housing could look throughout the country if a little more thought devoted to design. After all, the Tahiti Housing Complex didn’t get a 2012 AIA California Council Merit Award for nothing.