Student Name: Alena Nagornaia

School: California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Studio: LA Metro 2021 | Low-Rise

Instructor: Stephen Phillips, Pavel Getov, Teddy Slowik, Joanna Grant, Ismael Soto, Jimenez Lai

Primary Image

Pixelated Density decomposes the traditional structure of housing in Los Angeles proposing a new condensed typology for the area. Located at the crossing of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Ave, the project interprets the surrounding context of single-family houses by small-scaled volumes. The main concept for the project was to look at all the various housing typologies as different pixels of one bigger picture. To put it in other words, the overall homogeneity of the modules with a few slight design changes blends temporary and permanent housing treating them like different shades of one program which promotes a better sense of community. Creative office and outdoor spaces intermix with the housing and are placed along the circulation paths linking the residencies as well as creating a better visibility of the neighbors. More than that, the transparency of the public areas connected to all the perimeter streets question the reliability of gated communities and privately owned plazas in Los Angeles. Instead, Pixelated Density argues that the coexistence of assembly spaces for all and private residencies is possible through intermixing and not segregating them.


Pixelated Density takes its idea from the different shades and forms pixels create when composed into one bigger picture. To achieve the right pattern, there should be a certain logic and relationship between the pixels. The project utilizes a similar method to question the traditional individual approach to housing and the privatization of public spaces in Los Angeles, proposing a new community-oriented mixed-use typology. Three main features that allow Pixelated Density to establish a community within the contrasting programs are the small scale, homogeneity, and courtyard hierarchy. 


Located at the crossing of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue, the block of the site is mostly surrounded by small-scaled residential and retail buildings. However, as low density that follows this visual appearance leads to the problem of sprawling communities, the project adapts the scale to a different logic and content. Thus, the housing units are grouped into small houses, resembling those of the environment, and create interstitial spaces in-between.  Creative office and community spaces are of the human scale as well and are dispersed throughout the site connecting housing modules together. The purpose behind this is to create an inviting and calming feeling of a village, yet making it concentrated enough to promote communication between the residents. 

Alternate Image 1

The similarity, or homogeneity peculiar to the project is used as a bonding method for the community. Looking more at the composition of the particles, and not on their individual properties, allows for such programs as transient hotel, or transitional housing to coexist and interact with boutique hotel and high-income housing for example. The shared public spaces distributed throughout the project and in the podium level, emphasize this idea. However, despite similar scale and formal language of the massing, the identity of varying programs is articulated through differing curved and colored elements. As the program is grouped by office/community spaces and shades of housing, specific curved gestures allude to a following category, giving a sense of place on the site. Therefore, the homogenous approach allows an individual to be a part of something whole at the same time finding uniqueness when navigating the project.


Looking at the public-private relationships, Pixelated Density incorporates those through a series of courtyards. The hierarchy includes small, medium, and large green spaces according to the level of privacy. The small courtyards are placed within the housing units as individual patios, whereas the medium size spaces are located within the programmatic groups, creating assembly spaces for the residents. Nevertheless, the large courtyards that involve such social activities spaces as amphitheater, performing/projecting stage, farmers’ market, restaurant patios, etc. act as a community hub for all.


Being transparent to the perimeter streets, the circulation crosses the block in two directions and makes an easier connection with the public transit. The roof of the podium that catalyzes most of the community activities, encourages interaction by a loop circulation. In addition to that, the staircases plugged in between the housing modules eliminate corridors and increase the visibility of the neighbors, thus, forming smaller community groups.