BACKYARD URBANISM/ROOFTOP URBANISM

Year: 2018

Location: Los Angeles, CA

For: Taiwan Academy, YES to ADU Competition

Team: Jimenez Lai, Joanna Grant, Jake Parkin, Lena Kohl, Xiaowan Qin, Alicia Jones, Jade Narrido, Chieh-Ting (JT) Chuang, Georgia Pogas, Kyoung Eun Park, Michael DePrez, Yu Han, Yushan Menn, Lauren Mitchell, Karolina Dohlnakova

3D Printing Support: Kirill Volchinski, Julio Rodas, Zihao Ding, Karolina Dohlnakova

Model Assembly: Amy Suzuki, Ayda Abar, Jean Olmstead, Wiley Brioullette, Trisha Mejia, Klaude Matias, Miguel Luquin, Jose Hernandez, Will Carreon, Austin Richards, Tyler Karasawa, Christopher Thai, Allen Wang, Evan Ho, Steven Lin, Jacob Tennant, Vaughn Hilseimer, Fernanda Echeverri, Sam Anderson, Christine Du, Linda Deng, Vesta Wang, Emily Wu, Marc Martineau

Video: Mark Kamish

Special Thanks: Kirill Volchinkski, Julio Rodas, Juan de Robles, Maya Reyes

Taipei and Los Angeles both experience shortages of residential and commercial supplies to meet the growing demands of rent and purchase. This deficit has resulted in a high cost of living, creating a sense of discomfort caused by the unaffordabilit y of architecture. As a result, many citizens of both places have generated a natural response to this problem: add more architecture to the properties they already own, and increase the quantity of supply to meet the demand. Although this economic solution sounds simple enough, there are varying degrees of bureaucratic gymnastics in both cities that one must reckon with. The Weijian (literally, “illegal construction”) is a practice in which many property owners resolve the housing or commercial shortage by building buildings on top of buildings. Not dissimilar to Los Angeles, the complex and confusing legal process causes citizens to either misunderstand or outright omit the permitting process. This story raises many questions about the status of legality in the creation of architecture and reveals socio-political ramifications of additive architecture.  

ADUs can become a helpful addition to the entire neighborhood block if each and every one of the individual ADUs performed some infrastructural role, beyond just housing. If we consider the backyard ADUs to be mini “housing-plus” projects, and each “plus” performs some communal function, then the ADUs may transition from being sources of the nuisance to sources of benefit. For instance, if some of the ADUs also acted as something that offers a tangible return for the whole block – for example, solar power, water filtration, and more – the ADUs can be regarded more like infrastructure and less like architecture. The courtyard condition of a typical Barcelona Block is neither truly private nor is it completely public. The petition of such urban patches become a series of collective condition that contains variations of shared back-of-houses. If the shared functions of the LA ADUs can help remind the LA neighbors that legal property lines are as non-physical as any other imaginary political boundaries, maybe the typical LA suburban blocks can be re-imagined as a series of permeable blocks.