Backyard Basics


Backyard Basics: An Alternative Story for the Accessory Dwelling Unit


How can a collective approach to housing that is resident-led and owned serve as a model for affordable, low-rise, high-density housing along the L.A. River?

Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles is the inaugural exhibition for the Architecture + Design Museum’s new home in the city’s Downtown Arts District. LA-Más was one of six organizations to participate. Our exhibit is focused on promoting greater housing affordability in Elysian Valley along the Los Angeles River.

In Elysian Valley, also known as Frogtown, the rising tide of speculation along the Los Angeles River brings into question the nature of new development and if future projects can and should support housing, affordability and mixed-use. Currently, the only proposed strategies for increasing residential density in Elysian Valley are developer-led apartment complexes, sporadic insertions of live-work spaces into the manufacturing zone, and isolated construction of illegal Accessory Dwelling Units, also known as granny flats.

With government commitments to revitalize the L.A. River and a city-wide housing shortage, real estate in the neighborhood is rapidly turning over. Intense media speculation regarding new development projects has sparked residents’ fear of gentrification, displacement, and change – coloring perceptions and proposals as to what the future of the neighborhood will be.

In light of this context, our exhibit reconsiders the ADU, also known as Accessory Dwelling Units or granny flats, as an alternative strategy for resident-led affordable housing. As a series of strategies grounded on cooperative development, combined entitlements, and consolidated service, our exhibit also features policy recommendations for ADUs that has the potential to transform the existing environment of unpermitted and unrealized housing in Los Angeles.

Also as a part of the exhibit, we facilitated a salon style discussion that explored ADUs from the perspective of policy and politics, grounded in development and design considerations. Participants include local experts who have been extensively researching, designing, and politically navigating the complexities of ADUs. Our Panelist include:

Check out the Backyard Basics booklet.

For more information related to ADUs, please visit the cityLAB Backyards Home page.

The A+D Museum commissioned this exhibit with curators Danielle Rago and Sam Lubell and is on view at the A+D Museum from August 20th to November 6th, 2015.