X-Train House

Los Angeles, CA

2008

For the premier issue of Men’s Health Living, the magazine asked SPF:a to design a concept house designed affordably for a hypothetical urban site. The house would be destined for a young couple with active lives but plans for a family in the future, and a house that could flex to accommodate either reality. The design assumed a typical 50’x150’ lot which backs up to an alley in a moderately dense single family residential neighborhood.

The concept utilizes every part of the site and claims it as usable living space, insulated from the urban chaos all around.

A 6’ high landscaped site wall runs along the property line at the side yards and along the front and rear setback lines concealing otherwise vulnerable space. Land outside of the front and rear setbacks are given to the public domain in such a way as to benefit the client and public equally: the front setback becomes an orange grove and the rear becomes the carport.

The house is then placed centrally on the lot, a found object within a private oasis. The simple plan is divided into flexible quadrants based on a cross plan to accommodate smaller program areas: vertical circulation, storage, washrooms, and utilities. This parti continues on the 2nd floor.

In contrast to the first floor – which is left open with full height glass sliders at the entire perimeter – the second floor is a blank façade, totally closed off to direct views of the surrounding density. Light on the 2nd floor is obtained obliquely via large translucent cuts into the cube.