Creative Housing Options for Los Angeles | The Plan
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Creative Housing Options for Los Angeles

SO - IL | Minarc | First Office | Fung + Blatt Architects | Design, Bitches | Amunátegui Valdés | Lehrer Architects | Taalman Architecture | La Más | Welcome Projects

Los Angeles is reaching out to architects to help resolve a critical shortage of affordable apartments and humane shelter for the homeless. Christopher Hawthorne, the city’s first Chief Design Officer, collaborated with the L.A. Department of Building and Safety to solicit designs for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) ranging in size from 20 to 120 sq. m that would be pre-approved for construction. That should encourage homeowners to build such units in their back-yards and rent them out. He also helped organize the juried competition “Low-Rise: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles” to develop low-rise, multi-unit models that could replace or extend single-family homes - which comprise 70% of residentially zoned land in L.A. Meanwhile, architects have been working with the city to design innovative housing for the homeless.

The statistics are daunting. More than 18 million people live in the 34,000 sq. km of Greater Los Angeles. And yet, despite the wasteful sprawl of single-family houses, the cost of land and construction has risen to alarmingly high levels. On average, rents amount to half the income, and a house costs 560,000 Euros. As a result, people are moving to other states, overcrowding is rife in poorer neighborhoods, and the last pre-Covid estimate of 66,000 homeless people is sure to have increased during the pandemic. From Skid Row downtown to affluent neighborhoods in West L.A., people are living on the street, in public parks and under freeway overpasses. Adding urgency to this humanitarian crisis is the need to combat climate change by making the city more sustainable and reducing its carbon footprint.

Almost everyone acknowledges the problem, and most recognize the need for densification around public transit nodes, tweaking zoning codes to foster mixed-use developments, reducing the dependency on automobiles, employing prefabrication to speed construction, and much else. But reforms have been slowed or blocked by...

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