architecture blog

Modative Featured in Fox News Story on Small Lot Subdivision

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 @ 16:11 PM

On October 17, Modative was fortunate enough to be featured in a Fox News National TV story on small lot subdivison in Los Angeles. Christian and I really enjoyed spending several hours with producer Laura Prabucki and her team, touring a few of our projects and conducting interviews with the two of us as well as a few of the residents that live in the projects we designed. 

Modative Fox News Small Lot Story

The story isn't really about architecture, but rather the larger impact that this trend has on society and the economy. We were really happy with the final cut and are thankful to the the residents that made themselves available for tours and interviews. The story was featured on Fox News (national) several times on October 17 and has made a few appearances on local news affiliates around the country. If you weren't able to catch it on TV, click the link to watch it online - Tiny homes trend: Narrow houses built on smaller lots

modative small lot subdivison fox news tv

 

Projects featured in the story include 726 California Ave (project in the opening live shot in Venice), Cullen Street Homes (project with the open wood stair in the living room) , Fay 2X Homes (interior shot above) and Fay 3X Homes (project under construction in the video). 

Tags: Announcements, Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, small homes, Small House, los angeles architects

Modative Featured in LA Times Article on Small Lot Subdivision

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Mon, Jul 15, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

On Sunday, July 14, The Los Angeles Times featured an article on the front page about the growing popularity of Small Lot Subdivision in Los Angeles. We were lucky enough to be included in the article along with Planet Home Living (our client on the Artis @Echo Park project) and the Heyday Partnership.

Los Angeles Times Small Lot Subdivsion Architect Modative

Sunday Los Angeles Times Front Page.

LA Times Small Lot Home Architects Modative

And the Rest of the article. The images are from our Artis @ Echo Park project.

Modative has been focused on Small Lot Subdivision since our founding in 2006 and we are glad to see this innovative ordinance gaining in popularity in Los Angeles (and hopefully some other cities soon).

To read the article onlinehttp://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-small-lot-homes-20130714,0,563473.story

 

To learn more about developing Small Lot Subdivision Projects, we recommend downloading our free guide here. 

We also have a free Small Lot Subdivision Information Packet.

A list of Modative's Small Lot Subdivison Projects.

Tags: Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Housing, small homes, Small House, los angeles architects

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

Fay 2x Homes - Future Small Lot Subdivision Construction Complete!

Posted by Krystal Navar on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 06:02 AM

In November 2010, we posted about our cost-effective solution to reviving a project that had completely stalled due to the housing bust (see: Modative Architecture Provides Stimulus Package.) Well, since this last post, our sister company, Modative Build, has completed construction of Phase One of this new Fay Ave. project! 

To recap, the “2x” concept came out of finding a simple, creative, cost-effective solution to this goal: to re-imagine a pre-housing-bust development for a much different market. Fay 2x Homes is the reincarnation of the Fay Ave Art District Dwellings, a seven-home Small Lot Subdivision project, which was designed before the real estate market crashed. Our challenge, as architects, was to reinvent this project for a changed economy. 

The seven-home project would ultimately utilize three adjacent lots; however, the center lot was sitting vacant, and, as such, was not providing any income for the owner while the development stalled. Our client asked us to propose a simple, cost-effective design that would add immediate value to this vacant lot and start generating rental income. We decided to drastically simplify the design of the homes and to phase construction in a way that made the most financial sense for our client. The two homes pictured make up Phase One of a four-phase project. 

While the modern design of the project was inspired and influenced by its’ location near the Culver City Arts District, the straightforward design is a direct result of providing a cost-conscious solution for our client.  We decided to limit certain building components to only two variations as a way to minimize the overall project cost. This self-imposed limitation is evident throughout the design of the homes: phase one consists of two homes, each utilizing just two exterior materials, two interior materials, two colors, two window sizes, and two door sizes. Further emphasizing the “2x” concept, each home contains two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms on two floors, for a combined total of 2,000 square feet. These smaller, more affordable homes are being rented as apartments until all four phases are complete and the properties are ultimately subdivided into seven lots/homes per the Los Angeles Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance.

As a burgeoning design/build firm, we were also able to act as the General Contractor on this project. This helped to keep the cost of construction down for our client by drastically minimizing the cost of change orders that are typically a part of a traditional architect/contractor construction project relationship.

Phase One of this project was completed December 2011 and is now fully occupied.

Here are some photos of the first completed phase of the Fay 2x Homes. Enjoy!

small lot subdivision architects modern los angeles fay

The simplicity of the Fay 2x Homes allowed the property owner to start earning rental income ASAP.

small lot subdivision los angeles cement board siding fay

The wood 2x vertical fins, while hiding the connection details of the cement board siding, also create a graphic pattern on each building face. The patterns are dynamic and change with the time of day, especially on the south walls.

small lot subdivision LA fay ave 2X

A view of the back of the property. Check out all that vehicle back-up space required by the city! It's a crazy amount of space dedicated to the car, but I could throw a mean bbq shindig back there, so it's not totally wasted space.

small lot subdivision modern architect cement board siding

The home entrances are punctuated by bright green doors. 

small lot subdivision modern interior architecture

The concrete floor, plywood ceiling, and IKEA kitchen were all cost-conscious moves to keep the homes relevant in today's market.

small lot subdivision architect modern home

The front home's living area opens out onto a ground-level patio that engages Fay Ave.

los angeles architects small lot subdivision interior

The back home's living area is on the upper level, taking advantage of views toward the Baldwin Hills and the Helm's Bakery sign.

small lot subdivision modern bathroom architect

The bathroom finishes land just below custom-home level, but well above apartment-grade on the finish quality meter.


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

Tags: Los Angeles, Small Lot Subdivision, Fay Ave Art District dwellings, contractor, small homes, Small House, los angeles architects, culver city, construction

A Healthy Obsession with Small House Floor Plans

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 @ 15:03 PM

One of my favorite occurrences in the office is when my business partners and I have an impromptu design session, as recently occurred on the Cullen Street Small Lot Subdivision Project. Even though the project is far along in the architecture process (it was just submitted for permit plan check), we came to realize that the third floor plan master suite in one of the units was not up to par.

small house floor plans

The plan in question is the top floor of Unit #3, the unit with the corner window in the foreground of the bottom right rendering.

 

These design sessions are very informal and typically consist of two of us hovering over the third person's computer screen blurting out comments.

"Move that wall over 6 inches left."

"OK, now let's try to fit the shower in that corner."

"Are you crazy? You can't put the shower there. We can't plumb that and it's a privacy nightmare!"

"What if we flip it to the other side of the room? Let me see it in 3D."

"That's better. Let's make that an option."

Arguments develop over seemingly small things like how many dressers people like to have in their bedroom. These often heated conversations are all in the name of great design. I think the tension is a good thing.

Average design is quiet. It rarely moves people to take a real stance. 

Even something as simple as a master bedroom floor plan revision goes through this filter. Three (or more) design opinions pushing to make it better. These modern homes are small. Well designed floor plans are critical.

Here's a look at the multiple floor plan options that came out of this particular meeting of the minds.

Floor Plan Option 1 - The Original

This is what we started with: a floor plan with some problems. The wide "X" at the bottom of the room is an open-to-below space, meaning it's open to the living room below. Very loft like. We love open-to-below spaces in our homes; however, in this case. it was creating problems. The (low) bed wall was too short and the access to the office nook was awkward. There were other issues as well, but I'll spare you those details.small house floor plans


Floor Plan Option 2 - The Big Bedroom

The simplest solution to the issues in the original plan was to expand the room downward, closing off most of the open-to-below space. This, however, created a bedroom that was a bit large. If someone wanted a TV in the bedroom, they'd have to put it on a side wall because the wall across from the bed was too far way. Even more of an issue is that most people would rather have a larger bathroom and closet with this expanded space, not just a huge bedroom.modern house floor plans

 

Floor Plan Option 3 - The Vestibule

So that led to Option 3, where we moved that bathroom over to the expanded space. This allowed for a larger bathroom and closet. We also added a little vestibule area with a linen closet. The shower has a little window into the bedroom - how sexy. The whole bath/closet area can be closed off with a barn style sliding door. All the spaces have lots of natural light.modern floor plans


Floor Plan Option 4 - The Voyeur Shower

Similar to Option 3, but we moved the shower to the corner glass window. I know, very voyeuristic. I wasn't a big fan of this shower location, but it did create enough room for a tub in the bathroom.small house floor plans

Floor Plan Option 5 - The Big Bath & Closet

In this option we flipped the closet and shower locations. This created a large bathroom and closet. It's a technicality, but it's much easier to run the plumbing with the bathroom in this location.small modern home plans

Floor Plan Option 6 - The Flex Space

Here we took Option 5 and reduced the closet size creating a flex area for a desk, exercise equipment, or crib. Spaces like this are valuable in these small urban homes. This option also allows for bed wall flexibility.small lot house plans

 

I'd love to get some feedback as to which option you would prefer to live in. And if you'd like to offer up more than just a vote, feel free to leave a comment.

In several days, I'll reveal which option the clients selected.

 

Tags: Small Lot Subdivision, Modern Design, Architectual Practice, small homes, Small House, Floor Plans