36 Homes and Strategically-Scattered Bamboo Forests Replace Asphalt Jungle

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Tahiti Housing - Santa Monica, CA Architects - Daly Genik
A forgettable space near freeway becomes award-worthy sustainable housing

It’s not easy being green. Or award-winning. Or space-conscious savvy. But take what was formerly a run-down, mostly empty apartment complex near the 10 Freeway in Santa Monica and set the architectural firm Daly Genik to work. Soon, a barren somewhat decrepit and forgettable space becomes stage to a well-designed, 36-home, energy-efficient building. Welcome to the Tahiti Housing Complex: a 2012 AIA California Council Merit Award winner.

What was once an asphalt jungle near a busy freeway on-ramp is now a place of bamboo-forested courtyards surrounded by two and three bedroom homes, connected by staggering walkways—some ground-level and some raised.

Designed to exceed LEED standards, the site is organized so that all storm water is directed to a central water retention and recharge basin. Over this reservoir is a timber bamboo forest that is the central landscape element, crisscrossed by bridges at two levels. The cool microclimate established by this bamboo grove enhances natural ventilation in the units and enhances the ecology and natural environment by reclaiming site area that was formerly basic asphalt paving.

The project was initiated by a locally based, nonprofit organization committed to developing and managing affordable housing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. A key mission of the organization is to provide housing to lower wage working families. The project improves a problematic condition by increasing density on the site, providing critically needed housing for low-income families in a tight urban condition, and creating a cooler environmental condition by greening the site.
For more information on the Daly Genik firm, visit their website: www.dalygenik.com.

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Shannon Calder

Shannon Calder, a Sacramento-based writer, joined the AIACC in 2013. She is the author of, “Jack and Abigail Make a Compass,” a novel about people, birds, and orchids. She spends her days both on and off hours, looking for connection, which is a good hobby to have when linking the value of design to public perception.

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