Lehrer Architects converts several leftover plots in Los Angeles into micro-homes developments, unfolding an experimental template for tackling homelessness. Together with the Bureau of Engineering for the City of Los Angeles, the architecture firm creates an efficient yet functional design using prefabricated pallet shelters and brings character to the project through vibrant colours to shape a new sense of community and restore dignity through design.
In February, Lehrer Architects completed Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village, its first transitional housing project. Alexandria Park Tiny Home Village, the second deployment of the experimental solution, this time at a scale twice bigger, is nearing completion and will accommodate 200 residents. A third transitional housing project is currently under construction. The developments represent an intermediary step in the city’s strategy of helping homeless people access permanent housing. The defining feature of the projects is the use of colour, which turns the strictly functional solution into a visually stimulating space that can foster a community.
Each project is built on the experience of the previous development, generating increasingly more articulated designs with the same frugal means. Designed and built-in record time, the “bridge” shelters use prefabricated modules, which are easily assembled and can be accommodated onto various infill sites. Each unit provides shelter for one or two people. In addition, the same modules are arranged to house all aspects of the program comprising collective dining and gathering space, showers, laundry, secure storage and assistance with accessing city service.
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For us, projects like this are exhilarating. 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. - Michael B. Lehrer FAIA, Founding Partner of Lehrer Architects
Founded in 1985, Lehrer Architects is a Los Angeles-based architecture studio whose work centres around nurturing communities and improving local quality of life. The office has extensive experience working with various communities and cultural organizations to create affordable housing, shelters and community centres. The commitment to tackling homelessness and caring for the most vulnerable members of society can be traced to the early Skid Row projects up to the East Rancho Apartments for formerly homeless teens in South LA. In August 2020, Michael Lehrer was awarded the AIA|LA Gold Medal, its highest honour, for design excellence and his service to the community through architecture.