Lehrer Architects Designs New Tiny Home Villages for Homeless Residents in Los Angeles

Lehrer Architects designed a small home for the homeless in Los Angeles. Whitsett West was the name of the project. It was completed in collaboration with engineers from the Bureau of Engineering and architects of the City of Los Angeles. The project, which is located in North Hollywood and was the fourth in a series of seven collaborations to create a prototype for transitional housing forms.

Courtesy of Lehrer Architects

Whitsett West was created to be a vital urban and social asset. The urban site was designed by Lehrer Architects LA in collaboration with several city agencies, including the Bureau of Engineering (Ford Construction) and the Bureau of Engineering. This was done to make the homeless’s homes more distinctive and less stigmatizing by giving them their own unique places in the city.

Courtesy of Lehrer Architects

Saticoy is situated on a very narrow sliver, almost a quarter mile long, and sometimes only 20 feet wide. However, it needed to accommodate 150 beds in 77 units plus hygiene trailers and offices, as well as all the infrastructure required: electricity, storm drains and sewers, water and drainage. Due to the fast design and construction timeline, Saticoy’s immediate challenge was simply to fit all the units on such a narrow, difficult, and unusually-shaped site. To create an urban space, the architects used long, narrow viewsheds to achieve this goal. They also employed color as a visual language to reinforce the feeling of a village.

Courtesy of Lehrer Architects

Pallet Shelter designed the white units and delivered them flat to the site. These bright objects were used to create small villages along the long site. Tiny Homes 8×8 feet are quick to assemble. They provide a self-contained, conditioned space that each resident can lock to give them greater security, autonomy, and privacy while they work towards permanent housing. Each project has been a collaboration with the community. As a result, the importance shared spaces became a key consideration in the design of each project. These two communal spaces, which are centrally located, provide primary gathering and eating spaces for the entire community. To protect residents from noise and privacy, a 8-foot tall sound barrier was constructed along the freeway. It also incorporated existing trees to create a shaded, isolated refuge from the street.

Courtesy of Lehrer Architects

Lehrer Architects believes that there should be no throwaway spaces. The design uses colorful patterns of yellow, green, and blue to reclaim land previously abandoned and disused. The Whitsett West Tiny Homes Village is the latest in a City program to provide more housing for its residents. It is situated at the location of an existing homeless camp, between the 170 Freeway, some industrial shipping facilities, and parking lots. To serve the existing homeless community and limit its displacement, the City invested in new infrastructure. This included shelter, utilities, and services. It was a challenging task to bring infrastructure onto a 1000-foot site. This included making it ADA-accessible and making sure water is properly captured and drained. All this happened in a lightning fast time frame.

Courtesy of Lehrer Architects

“The City swiftly transitioned to tiny houses for the unhoused after the pandemic. This format has allowed us eight tiny home villages to be built over the past year, half of which can accommodate 1,047 people. Marina Quinonez (the Bureau of Engineering’s homeless facilities program manager, architect, and coordinator) stated that eight more of these tiny homes are in planning and construction and will accommodate 1,061 more people.

Courtesy of Lehrer Architects

This project is an experimental approach to LA’s homeless crisis. It uses the lessons from past projects to improve on them. Lehrer Architects opened Whitsett West this year and has since built 500 beds using this prototype. This project is part of a series of projects that can be used as a guideline for other densely populated areas to transform land into housing. This is a new way to think about how to improve community and provide housing to vulnerable residents.

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