HolLA. Second Home Offices in Hollywood
Los Angeles, United States
Diego Cano Lasso, Paolo Tringali, María Levene, Inés Olavarrieta, Juan Saez Pedraja
In Second Home Hollywood, instead of bringing the garden inside the office, we have brought the office out to the garden. 60 one level stand-alone offices in the garden of a Paul Williams building. Offices (pots) surrounded by planters (plant pots). Over 10,000 plants and trees, many butterflies, ants, bees, squirrels… and humans inhabit these pots. The wooden and concrete paths break through the garden with plants in both sides, as a stroll through yearlong flowers. “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change”. Second Home Hollywood is an experiment for the average office worker: co-exist daily with living things other than humans. This approximation to nature is not the only step towards a more sustainable living: plants reduce the temperature and provide shade; the clear façade eliminates the necessity of artificial lighting and has 3 operable openings for natural cross-ventilation; all the water at the site is collected in two cisterns totalling 37,000 gallons of storage capacity to be used for irrigation.
Second Home Hollywood has replaced 90,800 square feet of hardscape for 70,000 square feet of landscape. What previously was a parking lot is now a garden. It is one of the few private developments in history in which the footprint of the built-environment has been returned to the natural environment.
The new Second Home in Hollywood, holLA, is a collection of several recipes and ingredients of a California Cocktail. HolLA lays in East Hollywood on a 90,800 square feet site with two existing buildings, of which we have to maintain one with two floors, designed in 1964 by Paul Williams, the first recognized African-American architect working in Los Angeles. This building has a classical Neo-colonialism Los Angeles look and is used as a core and main entrance for the whole Campus. In this existing building 320 roaming places are located in the ground floor and additional offices with 200 workspaces are in the first floor, with common facilities such as café, bar, restaurant, events and conference hall, resting areas and open terraces, all around the building.
The other one is demolished and, on top of the existing underground parking, a 60 new oval-shaped individual offices and meeting rooms are placed surrounded by a garden that will be the Second Home for almost 700 people. Four different oval shapes create the 60 bungalow offices of 4 different sizes, that are scattered around the garden built with 4 feet of soil on top of the parking slab, burying the bungalows down to the table height. The transparent curved walls allow 360º horizontal views of the plants, giving the feeling to be working among nature.
The interior spaces in this project go pretty much unnoticed and the main focus is outdoors, which is quintessential to the living style in Los Angeles.
We had very clear that we wanted to take advantage of the weather in Los Angeles and the all year round blooming flowers. This city is fortunate to have abundant open spaces, and this is a big one. The unusual large size of the site so central in the city and the fact that we could bring new life to an abandoned lot made it a good site for the project; we wanted to create an oasis in the built environment. And there is also the existing building by Paul R. Williams, which has the spirit of Gloria Swanson in the staircase, a structure that simply needed to be opened up and brought back to life. Paul R. Williams was a great architect, all the proportions are right, like the relation of the spaces around the courtyard in the middle of the building.
Architecture is about human experience. Diverse groups of people come together here, in this Los Angeles garden, bumping into one another in spaces of modest sizes- designed to human scale. They are surrounded by nature in the center of the city, and they inhabit a historic building also built to human scale. All of this was done because we believe that human experience is the heart of architecture, and if we can bring people closer to each other and nature, then we can create better spaces for everyday life. Architects should not be afraid to speak up for the user, and in turn, they can make better cities where people want to work and live.