The Canyon Dwellings 

Designer: Joseph_Wei Chao-Chun
Time: 2022 fall    
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA

It is the kind of geological excavation taking place at the verge of the city, right across the highway from the grand avenue of social and artistic hub. The form is the derivative of a series of figure-ground drawings extracted from the stokes of Chines Calligraphy. These drawings transformed, morphed and superimposed in a way informing the planar silhouette and sectional strata of the architecture.

The living condition is settled and thrived within this collective dwelling typology of punctured mat and slabs. In the lower levels, stepped outdoor patios surrounding the central courtyard was created. They are ground-bound, hatched with window patterns of vectors. The ground pattern of the courtyard is mapped in a pattern resonating the form of the upper levels. It is a tapestry of softscape, hardscape, tinted concrete and urban furniture that act as the common datum of the community. The main entrance of the complex is located on the east corner, with an entrance pavilion at the center of the public belt of storefronts and a art gallery. The storefronts are double height, accessed through a level lower, towards the bottom of the slope.

Protruding from the lower part is a forest of organically round-shaped spiral stairs and voids. The voids light up the indoor common space at ground level that have airy outdoor feeling with double height space scattered with pavilions of community amenities. The spiral stairs circulate residents up to units at first and second floor, and to the public outdoor patios. One could easily sense this cascading of circulation and void shaft forest while roaming across among the canyons.

The upper levels are accessed through smaller stairs from the fourth-floor common area, shared by every two to three units. Various courtyards floating in mid-air are generated through the figure-ground approach here. These courtyards are encircled with an array of three-story dwelling units that each have access to their own rooftop balcony above which the geological form wraps up its geometry as a kind of pergola. A holistic visual experience is presented, as one looks around the floating courtyards and looks down upon the ground tapestry. The patterns of façade and plan morph to brought upon a sensual experience of disorienting spatial continuity. High above, the form leans back and forth, up and down, offering a changing opening perspective swinging between the ground, the horizon, and the sky.

The artificial landscape created here forms a living condition of an urban canyon, the scale as intimate as excavated by the act of inhabit. From the courtyard the sky is framed through the splendid mosaic of mass that is seemingly aggregating and constantly be sculpted. The orienting process of a resident to the house is graphical in a literal way. Upon the land here lies the inhabitation in the form of dynamic mass and voids wrapping and hollowing inside and out. People wind through the space also inside and out. And inside and out the city people find their own unique place and started a further excavation.


Elevation & Sections 

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