MAD Architects has completed Gardenhouse, its first project in the USA. Located at 8600 Wilshire Boulevard in California’s Beverly Hills, Gardenhouse is a mixed-use scheme consisting of eighteen residential units above first-floor commercial space. Evoking the lush landscape of Beverly Hills, the scheme becomes a hillside village with residential units growing from the building’s living green wall. Peaking above the landscaped envelope, a cluster of white façaded, irregular-shaped windows and gabled-roof structures create a dynamic neighborhood, and a playful, witty, though simple homage to the iconic hillsides of Los Angeles.
Ph. Nic Lehoux
Upon completion, the scheme will host one of the largest living green walls in the USA. This defining envelope is covered in lush plantings of native, drought-tolerant succulents and vines, whose familiarity with the local climate negates the need for extra irrigation and maintenance. The result is a unique texture forming an organic, natural, seasonal addition to the neighborhood streetscape.
The 4,460 sqm (48,000 sq ft) hillside village offers a variety of different housing typologies: two studios, eight condominiums, three townhouses, and five villas. This healthy mixture results in a high sense of community, and a feeling of individuality and exclusiveness even in this small-scale development. Unlike traditional apartment schemes, each unit has its own independent entry/exit circulation route, while almost every unit features a pitched-roof volume with dynamic interior expressions.
Enclosed by this cluster of white, pitched-roofed houses, the 2nd-floor courtyard forms a central landscaped gathering space for the small community. With careful consideration given to the distance, orientation, and arrangement of balconies overlooking the courtyard, the result is a private, tranquil, convenient interaction between residents and the secret garden which they share.
Residents of Gardenhouse are welcomed via a ground-floor entrance along Stanley Drive, off Wilshire Boulevard. The entrance adopts the atmosphere of a cave digging into the hillside; a dim, surreal environment where residents are led on a journey through a fairyland of light, shadow, and the sound of water. Further ahead, the softness of the cave meets a bright conclusion, with natural light flooding through a connected water feature from the courtyard patio above. Standing beneath this threshold, visitors marvel at a framed view of sun, sky, landscape, and water: a living painting removing people from the reality of the city.
Ph. Manolo Langis
Through Gardenhouse, MAD seeks to offer a rebuttal to the stereotypical cubic-box living environments of high-density cities across the world. An intrinsic connection with nature, with a tranquil, shared courtyard and private outdoor space for each unit, creates a calm oasis just meters away from the urban environment. The result is a physical manifestation of the idea that architecture can connect with both the built and natural environment, to offer a fuller, harmonious living experience.
DATE: 2013-2020 / LOCATION: Los Angeles, USA / AREA: 2,400 sqm (Site Area), 4,460 sqm (Building Area) / PROGRAM: Residential, Commercial / STATUS: Built / DESIGN: MAD Architects / PRINCIPAL PARTNERS IN CHARGE: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano / ASSOCIATE PARTNERS IN CHARGE: Flora Lee, Dixon Lu / DESIGN TEAM: Li Guangchong, Jon Kontuly, Joanna Tan, Chris Hung-Yu Chen, Wenshan Xie, Cesar D Pena Del Rey, Jeffrey Miner / EXECUTIVE ARCHITECT: Gruen Associates / CONSTRUCTION: DHC Builders, Inc. / CONSULTANTS: John Labib + Associates (JLA) (Structural Engineer), Breen Engineering Inc. (MEP Engineer), Gruen Associates (Landscape Architect), Rottet Studio (Interior Design), Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. (Civil Engineering), Seasons Landscape (Green Wall Specialist) / CLIENT: Palisades Capital Partners LLC / PHOTOS: Darren Bradley, Nic Lehoux, Manolo Langis