BioTrope | ULI Homeless Supportive Housing Competition | Project Team: Annie Chang, Matt Menendez, Jonathan Shum, and Min Kwak
East Rancho Dominguez, California

BioTrope is a proposed new construction of a three-story mixed use project consisting of two floors of efficiency loft units with support services above a clean tech water management laundry facility, deli/coffee shop, at-grade parking, outdoor performing arts space and a pocket park shared by the local community.

Prior to arriving at BioTrope, future residents have exhausted all means at leading a sustainable lifestyle due to financial crisis, drug and alcohol addictions, mental instability, depression, and a general lack of immediate support. Our design team foresaw this near hopeless situation as an opportunity to provide a new chance at leading a better life, starting from scratch, wiping the canvas clean. It was important for us that the design present two sides to the project; a front yard and a back yard analogous to mid-century single family dwelling. The front facade, facing north along Compton Boulevard, presents a clean white form with little stylistic articulation; this was an important aspect of the design: that the resident is confronted with blankness/whiteness upon entering the facility which bears no judgement on how they wish to recreate their new lives. The back facade, facing south with diagonal adjacency to the East Rancho Dominguez Park, presents a lush social environment of solar shading, leisure spaces, with an atmosphere similar to that of a botanical garden. Like the single family dwelling typology, the design team was interested in simulating aspects of the "back yard" as a community space fostering leisure activities of gardening, socializing, and entertainment when outdoor performances occur. Although the residents are aware of the presence of support and the reality of a multi-unit homeless supportive housing environment, the design team felt that the more personal we could design the shared spaces, that this would help to lessen the scale of the complex.