A scalloped parapet tops the whimsical Byben & Skeens studio in Los Angeles

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A scalloped roofline defines this playful backyard studio that Los Angeles architects Byben & Skeens made for a writer and filmmaker to have a “solitary space for creation.”


The compact project replaces an abandoned cabin in the steep terraced backyard of a new owner’s property in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood.

White stucco walls envelop the small writing studio

“The previous owner decorated the backyard in a lyrical antique style, with winding crumbling stairs that go up the hill and a hand-made hut on the brink of collapse,” explained architects Byben & Skeens .

“Inspired by the whimsical setting, the client wanted to replace it with a writing studio and a guesthouse that evoked the past but were resolutely contemporary.

The building has arched openings
Interiors are neutral, with pops of color added through the textiles

The 480-square-foot (45-square-meter) building is white stucco, with arched openings reminiscent of the Art Deco style that can be found anywhere in Los Angeles.

It contains a single bedroom that the guest uses as a writing studio or the occasional guest house, with a toilet at the back.

“To the west, a full-length skylight illuminates the room, the light modulated and diffused by a curved wall sweeping the space below,” said Byben & Skeens.

Firm peaks
Wood-frame windows and doors have arched tops

Two separate entrances lead into the building: one from the back yard, where large double doors allow the interior to be open to the elements; the other from the street.

This allows the owner to invite clients or collaborators without having to go through the main house.

The project makes the most of its steep site, which gives it some separation from the owner’s house below.

“The arched windows and doors avoid views into the house to focus on the surrounding trees and sky, creating a feeling of escape and immersion in nature,” the architects explained.

The slope also facilitated the construction of theater-style seating outside the building’s double doors, allowing the owner to put on small plays in the courtyard, or to sit and work with actors in rehearsal.

A raised wooden terrace
A terrace with bleacher-style seating is installed on the roof

Towards the rear of the property, an outside staircase leads to the roof, which overlooks the house below and enjoys views of the LA rooftops beyond.

“A sunny terrace is bounded by the peaks and arches of the building’s crown-shaped parapet,” the architects said. “Facing east, the bridge has an intimate interior feel produced by the dappled light of a narrow overhanging canopy of trees while to the south and west it offers unobstructed views of downtown of the.”

Still Peaks by Byben & Skeens
The studio is located between the main house and the street, and is accessible from both sides

Small buildings like this, sometimes referred to as accessory living units (ADUs) when they contain a bathroom and kitchenette, have long been common in Los Angeles, where relatively large plots of land and the cost of living. high living have increased the demand for housing.

In recent years, the trend has accelerated as the city has offered incentives to homeowners to build these structures in an attempt to make more housing available.

Arched openings on the studio
A scalloped parapet tops the ancillary living unit, also known as ADU

Those working on replicable ADUs for LA include a startup called Cover, which uses proprietary software to create a design tailored to a specific site, and SO-IL Architects, who unveiled a prefabricated flower-shaped design earlier this year. year.

The photograph is by Taiyo Watanabe.


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