“A number of artists have discovered that a big old shed is a good place to work.”
R. Banham, “Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles,” 1972.
The project is a carriage-house renovation for a married couple living on a historic property south of downtown LA. Though the original shed had been nearly entirely devoured by termites, and most of its original construction material had been replaced by composite wood siding and corrugated metal sheeting over the years, we were required to maintain the envelope of the building and to reconstruct – through conjecture and historical research – the original cladding.
Rather than view the shed as a fait-accompli of traditional construction, we approached the historicality of the project as skin deep – a discrete wrapper that loosely envelopes a second, interior skin that better conforms to the shed’s new life as a flexible studio space for the artistic practices of the owners. The second skin – a plywood wrapper that wears the evidence of its use over time [paint, screws, holes, etc] – fully inhabits the inviolable cedar wrapper, and provides a counterpoint to the expectation of a generic white box interior. The two skins are bound together structurally, allowing for storage integrated into the tapering wall section, an expanded corner entry, and an illuminated ceiling plane that projects light into the space during the day, as well as out into the neighborhood at night. The seemingly taught plane unzips to reveal the roof structure, and to create variable climatic and lighting conditions.
The skins meet at the openings, whose depths vary and are at times razor-thin. Discreet new incisions allow a stronger connection to the garden, whose space becomes semi-continuous with the shed’s interior. The shed’s variable interior likewise reflects the activity of the exterior space, which is in a state of constant transformation and upheaval owing to the obsessive gardening habits of the owners.
The shed thus transforms from a storage container occupying a quarter of the yard into a space of projection: of light, activity, use, of the exterior inwards and interior out, and ultimately the activated domestic lives of its inhabitants.