Linda Rosa Duplex / Martin Fenlon

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Architect: Martin Fenlon Architecture
Location: Eagle Rock, California,
Client: Michele & Wiley Langford
Contractor: Pieter Rousseau
Constructed Area: 912 sqm
Project Year: 2006-2009
Photographs: Architecture

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A dilapidated Spanish Colonial duplex sat empty and neglected on a quant hillside street in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles. As an anomaly with two legal units in a single family-zoned neighborhood, the down sloping property was patiently awaiting a drastic renovation by its owners who were eager to take advantage of the spectacular view. The view would be packaged and given to renters in exchange for premium rents. And because it was a rental property the budget provided was extremely small. To further add to the challenge, the City of Los Angeles only would allow a 750 s.f. addition to the cramped non-conforming structure. All of the existing framing had to remain or non-conforming rights would be lost. The new structure effectively used the existing foundation and retaining walls and digested the rest of framing into the reworked plans.

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R.M. Schindler’s ‘Space Architecture’ was used as a point of departure. The space was treated as the raw material and the enclosure the medium, realized within a 4’ reference frame that accommodated standard sizes and minimized waste. On the exterior, the simple, austere plaster-skin enclosure (reminiscent of the original duplex) was shaped and shifted only as a result of spatial requirements. What is left is a continuity of large openings, deep overhangs and terminus walls which maximize the view, natural light and breeze while minimizing the southern sun, undesired sight lines and cost. To respect the neighborhood, a larger, main unit was presented to the street as a single family dwelling with a secondary unit accessed from the side one level below. Inside, the space is shaped by the interplay of high and low ceilings punctuated by dramatic skylights. The low ceilings serve the function of providing duct and vent spaces, the skylights give places for the unwanted heat to go. The southern California light is made palpable where these low and high ceilings interlock; its ethereal quality piercing through the building mass like it does to the underside of the many overpasses around Los Angeles, freeing the restless space to the sky above.

Cite: "Linda Rosa Duplex / Martin Fenlon" 12 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=34789>

16 comments

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      i totally agree.
      seems they wanted too much and just couldn`t figure out which style to stick with, so they ended up with an overloaded potpouri of styls that don’t function 2gether at all (what sense do those skylights make – they have nothing to do with an interpaly…. – to me it’s just chaos).

      i guess the term “less is more”, would have been the saviour of this project.

      well that’s just my opinion

      cheers chris

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    chris, I don’t agree that it’s too many styles — its pretty much just a play on the LA/Schindler variation of straight up modernism.

    The main problems I have with it include the standard glass railing plus all that off-white stucco outside meeting up against all that concrete in the front, along with the chunkyness of the deck/overhang, plus the reliance on two tone paint to ‘break up’ all that gyp board inside, all conspire to make it seem kind of banal in the end.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree on the use of natural light, good to see clever “green” incorporation to develop a space in a non-obligatory way. Great design, especially considering the LA constraints

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I’d vote for ignorant over bored.

      The massing and tension are an homage to the traditions of California modernism and this looks to be a worthy addition to the streetscape. It is especially appropriate to see this kind of architecture in the Eagle Rock area, where a particular debt is owed to modernist tradition.

      As almost everyone has pointed out, the interiors fail to live up to the promise proffered at the curb.

      In particular I find the lighting solution disappointing. There was a time when LA architects where very inventive with simple lighting solutions. Schindler used bare bulbs behind wavy plastic in the Laurelwood apts. (barely 2 miles away) to great effect 60 years ago. Better lighting can be achieved with kit from Home Depot and a little imagination. Done well that lighting can be incredibly efficient as well.

      Terry Glenn Phipps

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think that when playing with the light and shadow the main colour you should use i white! And if not, you certainly shouldn’t go with warm and soft colours but rather use colder and sharper ones.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree – fire the photographer. Also – good attempt and result – surely there’s room for improvement though. what i sense is the lack of poetry.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    WOW! Those windows are fantastic and really take advantage of the view that this location offers. Eagle Rock needs more structures like these to enhance the appreciation of the landscape. The kitchen does look cheesy, but I am not deducting points from this structure because of that. Good Job.

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