Protected neighborhoods of single-family homes represent one of the biggest challenges to increasing the density of Los Angeles. These areas were historically the suburbs of denser parts of the city such as Hollywood and Downtown. However, as Los Angeles grew, the urban centers collided with these low-density neighborhoods protected by zoning laws and “neighborhood integrity” measures. These voids in the city constrict natural growth and densification, causing rents and real estate prices to soar as availability falls. This phenomenon exacerbates LA’s already rampant housing crisis. Canyon Drive helps to densify one of these neighborhoods by taking advantage of a measure that allows the subdivision of single-family lots. Applying this measure to a lot traditionally occupied by a single family home, LOHA was able to quintuple the site’s density while creating common open space and removing redundant infrastructure such as driveways.
Located south of the Hollywood Hills, the Canyon Drive homes examine the small-lot subdivision typology by taking advantage of its efficient footprint while creating unique homes filled with light and air. Starting from the maximum allowable envelope, the single mass is divided by tilting the exterior walls away from the lot lines at different angles to define individual homes and allow for sunlight and natural ventilation. From their initial wedge-like shapes, the volumes are expanded to insert more usable space and create a unique shape for each unit. This restores a sense of the individuality of single-family homes, missing from many small lot developments.
The soft curving forms are achieved through straight joists and panelized systems, a simple framing strategy. These wooden beams are exposed internally so the overall mass is legible from inside the home. The wood and masonry base for the two-car garage provides a material contrast for the light upper units composed of aluminum slats and polycarbonate. These material choices filter natural light into the living areas but maintain privacy, essential when building close to other properties. Replacing the traditional backyard, the design of each house incorporates a roof deck to create access to more outdoor space.
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] harnesses the complexities and latent opportunities of urban society to create transformative architecture. Our work is driven by ruthless optimism, creative pragmatism, and a profound conviction that bold, enlightened design elevates the soul and enriches communities.
We balance ideals and pragmatics, intuition and logic, radical visions and fulfilled expectations. We ground our process in rigorous exploration, persistent questioning, and technical expertise. We craft distinctive, sustainable, elegantly resolved designs that meet the needs of our clients and respond to broader civic and social ambitions.
Since 1994, LOHA has built over 85 projects across three continents. Our diverse work ranges from large, mixed-use developments and university residential complexes to art galleries and bus shelters. LOHA has been published in over 20 countries and recognized with over 100 awards, including the AIA Los Angeles Firm of the Year.