Portfolio Project Detail

Seed – Collective Co-existence Jennifer Marca, Yameng Zhang, and Shuang Wu

Site Context
635 Mateo Street is centered in the vibrant Arts District just east of DTLA, and a few short blocks from the L.A. River and the 6th Street Bridge. The 2-story brick building, originally built in 1929, has a rich history beyond its initial use as the Hills Brother Coffee headquarters. The building and the surrounding streets have long been a favorite spot for filming movie and television scenes and many industry related businesses are in the neighborhood.

Seed Community
Although adapting the building would make compelling housing units with its over-sized arched windows and soaring ceilings, we felt that the highest and best use would be to preserve it as a nucleus for the community at large and to create economic opportunity and social inclusion for the residents and the community.

Sustainability and Resilience
The proposed, fully accessible, ‘L’ shaped modular residential building is situated as a counterpoint and backdrop to the historic building which acts as a focal point. Carefully designed porosity achieved with sliding perforated panels and exterior corridors, creates natural cooling from shade and ventilation. The deep, but single loaded design of the building creates opportunity to capture cross breezes through the living units, as well as ample daylight. Every bedroom is to have an operable window and fan. By clustering kitchens and baths, plumbing is simplified, and grey water can be provided by captured rainwater that is collected for use in the garden, and toilets via a below-grade cistern.

Common Spaces
Each unit has living room space, outdoor patio and semi-private “front porch” niche. Our program for the first floor of the brick building is a flexible arts and performance venue and event hub that could change over time based on community needs. The 6,800 sf second floor is to be shared space geared towards the building residents with a playroom, media room, kitchen, laundry, library, study room, lending room and a rooftop farm. Spaces that exemplify the shared economy, are the lending room where residents can access items shared-in-common like tools or games, and spaces that share uses, such as a laundry room that also functions as a café.

Co-Living Units
The design of building is based on 106 individual bedrooms of 100sf each including a closet, as our goal was to build flexibility with centrally located kitchens and bathrooms. As needs change, bedrooms and bathrooms can be added or subtracted to a unit by adjusting demising walls as spaces are left to create pass through. Kitchens of 100sf are grouped back to back so they can be combined for larger units. The maximum number of bedrooms to single bathrooms is 3:1.

House Rules
House rules are generated by the cooperative board, and rooted in respect for neighbors and community, cleaning up after oneself in the common areas, complying with quiet hours and being mindful of energy and water use. All residents would be expected to attend cooperative meetings and participate in organized events and volunteer for cooperative responsibilities on a rotating basis.