LOS ANGELES – The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has lent its expertise to a local charity aiming to deliver affordable and sustainable housing to the local community. One happy family has just moved into the recently finished IVRV House.

The collaboration between the university and Habitat for Humanity – a charitable organisation with goals that cover neighbourhood revitalisation, home repairs, home ownership and green building – started in September 2014 with the objective to finish one house per year. Under the supervision of faculty member Darin Johnstone, students first design the houses and are then involved with hands-on construction work too, equipping them with valuable real-life experience which is all too often said to be lacking in formal architecture education. Besides being able to tap into the students’ ambitions, the charity profits from the implementation of early design innovations and new sustainable practices.

For this project, the focus has been to incorporate strategies which will reduce air pollutants and thus allow for healthy living. The result is a scupltural seeming house which – due to a triangular cut-out on the right top corner – brings to mind a jewel. The property consists of three bedrooms and an innovative entry through the courtyard which forms a liminal space between the boundaries of inside and outside.

Programme coordinator Darin Johnstone highlights the positive results of the collaboration: ‘One of the many moments that stands out was a day near the end of construction where a group of students was working alongside the partner family to complete the ‘Eco-Screen’, an element designed to capture energy, clean the air and provide a secure, shaded outdoor space for the residents. The pride and joy shared by all was palpable. The complementary missions of Habitat LA and SCI-Arc were evident in the moment and exemplified in the place that was being created.’ 

Photos Joshua White