IVRV House by Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles + Darin Johnstone in Westmont, California

Project: IVRV House
Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles + Darin Johnstone 
Westmont, Santa Barbara, California, United States
Area: 1,185 sf
Photographs by: Joshua White

IVRV House by Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles + Darin Johnstone

Discover SCI Arc, an extraordinary collaboration between Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles and Darin Johnstone that defies traditional notions of sustainable and affordable housing. This groundbreaking project emerged from the partnership between the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and Habitat for Humanity, uniting their mission to educate future architects and provide simple, decent, and affordable homes for all.

The IVRV house, designed and constructed by students, challenges conventional residential programs in an unexpected way. Situated in South Los Angeles, it maximizes protected livable areas while maintaining a compact footprint. The design reimagines a two-story gabled block, utilizing deliberate operations to transform traditional forms. The entry court features a unique multilayer “eco-screen” that creates a sheltered outdoor environment, blending sustainability and aesthetics.

The IVRV house is the result of a collaboration between Southern California Institute of Architecture and Habitat for Humanity. It represents the mergence of two complimentary missions; to educate Architects who will imagine and shape the future and to provide simple, decent, affordable housing for all. The house is intended to challenge the status quo of sustainable / affordable housing in both form and content.  The student designed and constructed house strives to answer a typical residential program in an unexpected way. The collaboration began with a studio at SCI-Arc in September of 2014. Through a kind of competition process the IVRV design was selected from a field of 16 student projects. The student designed, developed and constructed project, led by faculty member Darin Johnstone, was completed in the spring of 2016.

The site in South Los Angeles is in an area where chain link fences line the perimeter of homes to deter crime.  The primary functional concept of IVRV was to maximize protected livable area (inside and out) while maintaining the square footage of HFHLA’s typical single-family homes. (3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath in 1200 s.f.) To achieve this, the house captured the allowable width of the lot as a two-story gabled block that outdoor spaces were ‘subtracted’ from. The traditional form was challenged through a series of operations to make it work differently than a conventional house. The south end (rear of the house) is tilted to thicken the wall for added insulation and to provide shading for the inset windows. The north end roof (front of the house) is cut to provide northern top light into a balcony, bedroom and entry courtyard. The resulting uniqueness of the design is not mere novelty. It is form following purpose through process.

At the entry court, a multilayer ‘eco-screen’ was developed to enclose the garden space. This came from a desire to create a protected outdoor environment within the gabled volume of the house so the family could enjoy the full benefits of the California climate and lifestyle. The design strives to synthesize sustainable features into an overall aesthetic; The ‘eco-screens’ protect the entry court with a new kind of trellis that shades the courtyard, captures energy and cleans the air.

Hopefully the project can lead by example and make a difference in the city. It is one tiny project that embodies the idea that design innovation is imperative to creating housing that is affordable, sustainable, safe and beautiful. According to the principles of Habitat for Humanity ‘every man woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live’. In imagining the future the students at SCI Arc set out to think beyond decency to something that is also delightful, wondrous and inspiring.

Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles


Tags: California, compact, Darin Johnstone, exterior, Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles, interior, modern, Westmont

Author: Fidan Jovanov


A young enthusiast with a passion for home decor and architecture, I love writing articles that inspire and guide readers in transforming their spaces into stylish, functional, and beautiful environments.


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