architecture blog

Phasing a Future Small Lot Subdivision: The Fay 3X Homes

Posted by Michael Scott on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 @ 18:07 PM

As we started design work on phase two of the Fay Ave project earlier this year, we had to keep in mind that the project’s overall mission was still the same: affordable, interesting, modern housing that pencils out as rental apartments or for-sale Small Lot Subdivision homes.  

Keeping that in mind, whenever we start a new project, we like to take a fresh look at things. This is no different for a phased project. So, we hit the ground running, establishing the following new project goals.

  • Decrease the number of phases from four to three in order to reduce the nuisance of construction for the neighbors and take advantage of economies of scale in construction pricing.

  • Incorporate improvements from feedback received from potential end users (the tenants of phase one) and subcontractors.

  • Retain ideas and elements that were successful from the first phase.

Modern Apartment Site Plan Los Angeles

One of the best things about a phased development is that we were able to analyze and learn from round one (Fay 2X Homes) and incorporate the new knowledge into phase two. Outside of internally looking at the project through a critical eye, we also received feedback from potential renters of the first phase. The Developer and Modative both talked openly with prospective tenants about what they liked and, more importantly, would like to see improved. The responses were overwhelmingly positive, but  as problem solvers, we focused on the areas needing improvement. Slightly larger bedrooms, increased storage, more yard space, and a master suite topped the list of most-desired improvements.

For us, the project working in a spreadsheet is just as important as it working in architectural plans. Phase two wasn’t going to happen if it didn’t make financial sense.

To keep costs down, we knew that we only wanted to add square footage where we needed it. Most of the spacial concerns were in the private rooms, so we knew that the additional area should be on the second floor. We accomplished this by cantilevering above (front unit) and bridging across (rear units) the carports. This move shifted the spacial balance, which was essentially 50/50 public/private in phase one, to lean towards the private space. We offset this shift by connecting the ground level living areas to large (by urban standards), usable outdoor spaces, creating a nice indoor/outdoor flow.

Small Modern Homes Diagram


Upgrading one of the bedrooms to a master suite was another high priority item. This meant a larger bedroom area, an upgraded bathroom and a walk-in closet.  At the minimum, we wanted the upgraded bathroom to have a dual sink, but we were also able to fit a larger shower and a linen closet. We also placed the wet walls back-to-back, a move that will make the plumbing subcontractor very happy.

Modern Small House Plans Improvements

So, after adding all this area to the bedroom level, we crunched the numbers and found that  the master bedrooms are 32% larger and the secondary bedrooms are 11% larger in phase two than phase one. While the walk-in closet naturally increased the master storage, we also grew the storage in the second bedroom by over 50%.

Homes Modern Apartment LA Fay 3X

We kept the elements people liked from phase one: simple forms, interesting facade treatments and a cost-effective building design.

Phase two has three units and three door and window types, thus earning it the nickname 3X Homes, which is a spin-off of the 2X Homes concept of phase one. Construction on this phase will start in the fall of 2012 with construction completion scheduled for spring 2013.

Post by Michael Scott. Contributors to this post include Krystal NávarDerek Leavitt and Christian Návar.

Tags: Development, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Fay Ave Art District dwellings, small homes, Small House, affordable modern architecture, los angeles architects, modern architecture firm

A Skinny Solution for Small House Floor Plans

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, May 30, 2012 @ 07:05 AM

A while back, we posted about our design process for developing master suite floor plan options for the Cullen Street Small Lot Subdivision project. We presented 6 different layout options, but there were countless variations. Usually, on a project, we decide which layout to run with based on our own design preference and direction given to us by our client.

Our 14-home Commerce Villas Small Lot Subdivision project in Tujunga, however, presented a unique set of challenges. To lay out 14 homes on the site in the most efficient manner, taking into consideration setbacks, driveway widths, vehicle backup requirements, etc., each home ended up being a mere 15’-0” wide, measuring from the exterior face of the north wall to the exterior face of the south wall.

small house plans

Site Plan of Commerce Villas project

The Cullen Street building footprints are generally square, whereas the Commerce Villas building footprints are long and skinny. So, unlike the Cullen homes, where there were many variations of floor plan layouts, the narrowness of the Commerce Villas homes limited our options. There are only so many ways to lay out a home like this, fitting in the programatic requirements given to us by the client: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, outdoor decks/patios, and 2 covered parking spaces in 1200-1500 square feet.

First of all, the narrowness of the homes necessitates that the parking be tandem. (We can discuss the pros and cons of tandem parking all day long, but we’ll leave that to another blog post.) Also, we decided early on through discussions with the client that the living level (kitchen, dining room, living room, and powder room) would be located on the second level and the bedrooms and laundry located on the third level due to the age of the anticipated potential buyer. We expected this buyer would not want to haul their groceries up two flights of stairs. (Many times, though, on other projects, we will locate the living spaces on the upper level when the project is appealing to a younger demographic and the views from the upper level warrant being appreciated during daylight hours and not while you’re sleeping in bed.)

small house floor plans

Early first floor plan

skinny solution small house floor plans

Early second floor plan

la modern skinny house plans 03

Early third floor plan

So, keeping these constraints in mind, after locating the parking in the footprint, there is only one space to locate the stair without having the stair separate the living spaces from the deck or yard space. Once the stair is located, the big decision is on which side of the home (east or west) to locate the kitchen or the living room. Should the kitchen have direct access to the deck (so the user doesn’t have very far to travel when bbq-ing) or should the living room? The client chose Option 2.

small house plans la architect small lot

Option 1 showing the kitchen next to the deck. (See Option 2 above with living next to the deck.)

We also developed a second option for the bedroom level with a walk-in laundry room instead of a stacking washer/dryer in a laundry closet. Ultimately, we decided to locate the bathrooms next to one another so they could share a plumbing wall. The client also decided that a walk-in laundry room was not a priority.

modern bedroom floor plans small house

Option 2 showing the kitchen next to the deck. (See Option 1 above.)

As we spent more time looking at the buildings three-dimensionally in our computer model, we tried ways to spice things up. We couldn’t do anything too crazy as keeping the cost of construction low was a priority. In an attempt to make the 6’-0” spaces between the buildings a more interesting space to occupy, we angled the exterior walls facing those gaps. However, because the walls could not be angled out to make the buildings greater than 15’-0” wide, the walls had to be angled in, making the already limited interior spaces smaller. When your home is only 15’-0” wide, every inch counts. Ultimately, we decided that the angled walls were not angled enough to be worth the effort (or implied cost), so we straightened them back out.

small lot house plan

Second level floor plan showing angled walls

In the latest layouts, we did keep the angled walls on the front of the units in order to give the elevation a bit of shadow-play and interest. As you may have already noticed, we also staggered the building pairs. We did not want to present the street or the interior driveway with a flush wall of 3-story homes. Staggering the homes gives these elevations a bit of relief and creates a more interesting pedestrian experience.

modern small house plan

Latest first floor plan

narrow house floor plan

Latest second floor plan

modern small lot floor plan

Latest third floor plan

small lot subdivision tujunga

Project rendering

Post by Krystal Návar. Contributors to this post include Christian Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott .

Tags: Residential, Small Lot Subdivision, small homes, home size, Small House, Floor Plans, affordable modern architecture, los angeles architects

Smaller Architecture Projects are Not Just a Sign of the Times

Posted by Christian Navar on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 @ 06:04 AM

When Modative started in the Spring of 2006, we formulated a firm philosophy that included making modern affordable (and not just because the economy was about to tank). Our intention was to create a business operating structure that didn’t have to rely on generating income solely off of huge, elaborate commissions. Early on, we strived to create a firm that embraced projects of varying type and size, in order to satisfy our mission to make good design accessible to as many people as possible. So, if you call and say that you love good, modern design, but have a very limited budget, we will still consider the job. 

A Small(er) Job

Recently, we received a call that aligned perfectly with our firm philosophy. Not only did our clients have a very limited budget, but they also had a tight and strictly defined schedule. “We have a baby on the way... in 7 months to be exact. We need bedrooms now!”

Project Schedule

Project Schedule

 

The project site consisted of an existing 1300-square-foot open loft space within a large multi-unit property. Our task was to take the hip, open loft space, and make it a bit more practical. 

Floor Plan Diagrams
Floor Plan Diagrams

 

The Challenge: Split the open loft space, adding two bedroom areas, but maintain the “lofty” quality of the space. 

The Result: A Volume, A Wall, & The Doors

 

A Volume

Volume Rendering

Rendering of new volume (nursery)

 

A volume was designed to shelter the new baby. Within the volume is the nursery. Aside from the bathrooms, the volume is the only fully enclosed, fully sound isolated, traditional bedroom space in the unit. It is the perfect space for a sleeping baby (not to mention a good room to contain the terrible 2’s!)

Photograph of VolumeAt the clients' request, an interior window was provided, allowing them to peek into the volume without disturbing their sleeping baby. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

Photograph of Volume from EntryPhotograph of new volume (nursery) from the entry. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

A Wall

Rendering of Wall

Rendering of the new wall from the living room

 

A wall was created to define the space between the living room and the bedroom/office area. Within the wall is much needed storage. A new closet is accessed from the bedroom side of the wall, while a new pantry is accessed from the kitchen side. 

Photograph of ClosetView of the new closet from the bedroom side of the wall. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

The Doors

Photograph of WallView of the new wall with the doors open. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

Within the new wall are a series of sliding, bypassing, pocketing barn doors. When closed, the 10’-0” tall doors provide privacy for the bedroom/office area. When opened, the large openings create definition, yet openness, within the lofty space. 

Photograph of Wall, Doors ClosedView of the new wall with the doors closed. Photo by Krystal Návar

 

Post by Christian Návar. Contributors to this post include Krystal Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott .

Tags: Residential, Los Angeles, Modern Design, Architecture portfolio, small homes, modern remodel, remodel, los angeles architects, affordable modern architecture