Vertical Venice | Quick on the Rise
Venice, LA, America

Catherine Ashbridge

Dominique Vorillon

The prefabricated V.V3 design by Siegal, past winner of the Italcementi 2016 arcVision Prize – Women and Architecture, meets all the Los Angeles building codes, offers a brilliant housing crisis solution, and provides options for urban dwellers looking to increase density without disrupting the neighbourhood. A pioneering achievement in residential urban construction.

Jennifer Siegal, Founder and Principal of the Office of Mobile Design, OMD, specialises in prefab design and an ‘obsession with the transitory’. Based in Venice, Los Angeles, OMD was started in 1998, working ‘portable, demountable or relocatable’ structures. Siegal’s recent project, ‘The Vertical Venice’, V.V3, is a triple-stacked modular addition to the rear of her existing 1920’s Californian home.

The module involved a 21 day factory build, which was craned in over the existing home, installed in one day, and finishes completed over the next 3 months. Light and ventilation were top of mind, so to maximise energy and efficiency the 300 sq m modular addition uses a diagrid structural system wrapped in polycarbonate panels. “It allows for a more open interior and doesn’t rely as much on internal structural steel.”

For Siegal, a prefab is “a more intelligent way of inhabiting the landscape.” OMD is always exploring the possibilities of offsite construction, re-purposing materials, sustainability and portability. The project sees a reduction in building costs and material waste, a faster construction time, a tighter building envelope, inclusive green finishes and higher insulating properties, all contributing to a lower total life-cycle cost for the homeowner.

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The first level emphasises a functional open plan kitchen, living, dining and play space with easy access to outdoor entertaining and garden. Cross ventilation is maximised with opening windows both at east and west facing, as on the level above, and allows for passive cooling all year round. In the colder months a RAIS Gabo wood burning stove contributes to heating.

Californian white oak floorboards connect the existing bungalow to the new modular addition. Light filters through the polycarbonate panel walls onto the slick open-tread staircase connecting the new levels. Parallel to the stairs the inventive addition of a movie projection screen sits cleverly concealed in the ceiling.

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The second level creates a lofty ambience with over 3 metre high ceilings, and here the master resides boasting expansive skyline views of the urban sprawl. The bedroom can close off from the other levels with a barn style roller door made from reclaimed wood planking. The accompanying ensuite bathroom features a deep Japanese style soaking tub with, handcrafted organic tiles and windows positioned at just the right height to magnify light and viewpoint.

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Up one more level an inhabitable rooftop provides 100 sq m of additional green space. The surface is laid with synthetic turf, up-cycled by Siegal, from a lucky find at Santa Monica’s airport park. On this level additional green systems include an on-demand Navien water heater, three operable skylights for light and ventilation below, and a grey water drainage system.

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The prefabricated V.V3 design by Siegal, past winner of the Italcementi 2016 arcVision Prize – Women and Architecture, meets all the Los Angeles building codes, offers a brilliant housing crisis solution, and provides options for urban dwellers looking to increase density without disrupting the neighbourhood. A pioneering achievement in residential urban construction.

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