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Note: Mosaic wall created by Augustine Aguirre and Raul Curiel, sponsored by the Watts Towers Arts Center.
The Garcia compound consists of several structures that accommodate three generations of one extraodinarily tight-knit family. In a first step, the architects interviews multiple members of the family, surveyed the existing building to establish, and then map the various problems with existing buildings to establish the various problems with existing structures and infrastructures. The architectural interventions to the buildings and to the site are minimal, mostly addressing the problem areas identified. The architects’ intention is to help make a livable place for this family by adding necessary living space for the second generation members who co-habit the family compound, and amongst other things, remodeling the bathrooms and kitchens to keep them in functioning order.
In addition to addressing these more mundane needs, the architects, in collaboration with the artists collective Slanguage, are looking to develop a distinctive identity for the family’s home through a series of interventions: one, a memory book tracing the family’s history in the neighborhood; two, an artwork in the form of a reliquary to enshrine the family book; and three, decorative architectural elements interwoven in the architectural fabric of the home. A new carport, doubling as an outdoor dining pavilion, serves as a communal gathering space for family festivities.
Having lived there for more than 30 years, the Garcias are a pillar in the Watts community. They have raised four generations in their duplex home, and, as the family has grown, so too has their need for space and improvement to the property. Overcrowding has pushed one part of the family to inhabit the property’s garage, and insufficient resources, in addition to soaring energy costs, have led to the deterioration of the home’s interior, putting great stress on family life. To help the Garcias enhance their home and living conditions, WHP has partnered with Los Angeles-based artist collective, Slanguage, and the modern architectural design firm, EscherGunewardena.
(left to right): Karla Díaz, Mario Ybarra; Ravi GuneWardena, Frank Escher (© John Ellis)
FRANK ESCHER & RAVI GUNWARDENA (ESCHER GUNEWARDENA ARCHITECTURE)
work addresses issues of sustainability, affordability and the dialogue between form and construction. They seek to establish simple formal manifestations of the complexities of each project, investigating the sublimated characteristics intrinsic to the work itself. Located in the United States, Canada and in Europe, their work ranges from residential to commercial, master planning and institutional projects. Residential projects include new construction (such as the Jamie Residence in Pasadena, a 2000 square foot house lofted on two concrete towers above it’s precipitous site), as well as work on historic structures (such as the recent restoration of the Chemosphere in Los Angeles for the German publishers Benedikt and Angelika Taschen). The firm’s interest in contemporary art has led to various collaborations with artists and art related projects. www.egarch.net
KARLA DIAZ & MARIO YBARRA JR. (SLANGUAGE)
Founded in 2002, Slanguage is an artist group headquartered in Wilmington, California, a harbor area of Los Angeles. Slanguage bases their practice on a three-pronged approach to art-making to include education, community-building, and interactive exhibitions. Focusing on art education, the collective has organized numerous artist residencies in museums across the United States and abroad. Fostering dialogue about the meaning and value of contemporary art, Slanguage has used their studio space and resources to cultivate relationships between diverse artists, students, communities, and organizations. Slanguage creates artworks that have ranged from multimedia installations to performances, public events, and workshops, the collective has enriched, inspired, and provoked viewers’ imaginations through local, national, and international exhibitions. slanguagestudio.com
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