A community solution

Nick Myall
Thursday 25 Feb 2016

This community housing project in Santa Monica replaces a vacant nursing home, adding density and activity to an urban corner site

Developed by Kevin Daly Architects for the Community Corporation of Santa Monica (CCSM), USA, Broadway Housing addresses the housing needs of families earning 30-60% of the local median income. The developer is committed to building and operating infill housing that is environmentally and economically sustainable in Santa Monica, a city known for progressive politics and daunting development regulations. 

The project replaces a vacant nursing home, adding density and activity to an urban corner site across from a large community park. The design aggregates two- and three bedroom units into four repeatable blocks, arranged in a pinwheel configuration around the site. After school programs are offered in a cluster of community buildings with planted roofs, arranged near the canopy of a mature shade tree. 

The three story residential buildings are scattered around a starfish shaped internal courtyard with a planter that extends through the underground parking level, allowing mature Sycamore trees to thrive and shade the courtyard. The four residential blocks are connected by a multilevel bridge resembling a lattice house, adding layers of privacy yet providing views across the courtyard. The arrangement maximizes the opportunities of the 1.5 acre site, directing the views from sleeping spaces to the perimeter of the site. All of the units open to the central courtyard providing natural ventilation through each unit.

Sustainable design strategies are central to CCSM’s goal of building durable housing that is economical to operate. The project in naturally ventilated, so controlling daytime heat gain was a top design priority: planted roofs insulate community buildings to minimize heat accumulation in spaces used for late afternoon programs. The sun-facing “active” façade of each building is composed of extended window boxes that protect glazing from direct sun. These canted wall surfaces are also a rainscreen that allow ventilation behind the concrete board finish. The entire site is engineered to collect all roof and surface rain water and pipe it to an underground 15,000 gallon cistern where the water is clarified and used for landscape irrigation. 


Nick Myall

News Editor

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United States

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