Architecture and Design Obsession
lehrer architects has converted a forgotten, oddly shaped infill lot in north hollywood into a colorful tiny village of 40 prefab homes for the homeless in los angeles. designed and built in record time of only 13 weeks, the ‘chandler boulevard bridge home village’ offers an efficient, appropriately experimental and timely template for improving the city’s homelessness crisis. the village is characterized by brightly colored details that enhance the individuality of the units while creating a sense of community, dignity, and joy.all images courtesy of lehrer architects
the ‘chandler boulevard bridge home village’, designed by lehrer architects and the bureau of engineering for the city of los angeles, opened to its first residents at the beginning of february 2021. the innovative community project offers an efficient, appropriately experimental template for improving the city’s homelessness crisis is one of the centerpieces of the city’s emergency response to getting people into safe and healthy ‘bridge’ shelters en route to permanent housing. the village consists of 40 one-or-two-person prefab units that are easy to assemble and provide private, autonomous space for the people who live in them.
the prefab village is constructed on an awkwardly shaped, leftover infill site bordering the orange line busway and close to an important north hollywood park. given there is often neighborly opposition to such projects, the project is designed as a place of significance that blends with and enhances the neighborhood, combating preconceived notions about homeless housing. the architects brought the functional space to life with low-cost design details like modernist paint highlights to create ample visual variety and a sense of community. chain link fence, extensively required throughout, was enlisted to create graphic patterns while providing appropriate privacy and visual separation from the orange line.
a streamlined and efficient arrangement of prefabricated modular units creates collective dining and gathering spaces, a pet play area, showers, restrooms, laundry, pest control, secure storage, and assistance with accessing city services. according to the architects, this is a beta project for los angeles, meaning it is new to the city and its unique requirements. it has already taught many lessons to expedite and reduce the costs of subsequent projects, as it embodies the city’s commitment to restoring houseless people’s lives by providing them with housing, as quickly and meaningfully as possible.
‘the biggest cost contributors were the new 550’ long sewer line extension, protective barriers for pedestrians, leveling the street for ADA due to lack of sidewalks and adding a fire lane throughout the entire site, but this upfront investment means that the site is now developed in perpetuity, so will continue to serve the city after it has completed serving the houseless residents,’ says nerin kadribegovic, partner at lehrer architects.
‘for us, projects like this are exhilarating,’ explains michael b. lehrer, founding partner of lehrer architects. ‘political, time, and cost constraints were severe—demanding extreme design discipline and chops. our focus was to honor, nurture and restore a modicum of wholeness and delight to our fellow citizens without homes. every move is conceived to add significant value and be cost-neutral: in that vein, color is used extensively to create a sense of community and places of respect, dignity, and joy. projects for people at all levels of the social ladder, but particularly those near the bottom, remind us again and again that beauty is a rudiment of human dignity.’
name: chandler boulevard bridge home village
architect: lehrer architects (LA)
location: 11478 chandler boulevard, los angeles, CA, US
builder: ford construction
MEP engineer: S&K engineers
civil engineer: barbara hall & associates, PE
sofia lekka angelopoulou I designboom
feb 12, 2021