In a bustling urban landscape like Los Angeles, the concept of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is being reimagined. Designs are challenging the traditional notion of ADUs as secondary or subordinate structures by prioritizing their potential as independent living spaces with unique architectural identities. A recent project in California encapsulates this shift, demonstrating how ADUs can be both functional and aesthetically enriching, particularly when intended for use as rental units.
Yosemite ADU Technical Information
- Architects1: Yeh-Yeh-Yeh Architects
- Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
- Topics: American Houses
- Project Size: 1,000 ft²
- Site Size: 8,327 ft²
- Project Budget: USD 400,000
- Project Year: 2020
- Photographs: © Brandon Shigeta
Our initial design was driven by rethinking the value of ADU not as a secondary house and discovering any overlooked aspects that might be interesting and effective in design. There are many reasons people are building ADU, but the intended use of this ADU is for a rental unit. Therefore, we constantly envisioned the future potential renters and their lifestyles when we designed the building.
– Yeh-Yeh-Yeh Architects
Yosemite Accessory Dwelling Unit Photographs
Balancing Privacy, Aesthetics, and Sustainability in ADU Design
The clients, seeking to attract tenants who value design and lifestyle, faced the challenge of balancing the distinctiveness of the ADU with the primary residence. This delicate balance required addressing privacy concerns, ensuring functionality, and creating a visually appealing design that respects the existing architectural context.
Innovative Design Solutions
- Strategic Location and Pathway Design: Located at the rear end of the property, this ADU transforms the long driveway into a dual-purpose space – a parking area for the main house and a welcoming walkway for tenants. A gravel path, gate, and front garden create a sense of entering a distinct, personal space. The location further inside the lot offers tenants a deeper and more enjoyable street view.
- Privacy and Aesthetic Integration: Privacy was a key consideration. To avoid overlooking into each other’s backyards, the design strategically excludes windows in certain directions. An oversized skylight in the hallway introduces natural light and ambiance. To compensate for the loss of garage storage space in many ADU conversions, an additional 50 square feet of storage space was allocated to the existing house.
Building Identity through Materiality: The ADU’s identity is further defined through its material palette and form. The use of “Jongseok Mijang,” a traditional Korean building technique, lends a unique texture to the walls. This method, involving scraping a cement/gravel mixture, results in a robust finish with energy-efficient properties. The contrast between the rugged cement/gravel and the smooth white panels and aluminum finishes creates a striking visual dialogue. The use of Turfstone pavers complements this aesthetic while also providing environmental benefits
Interior Design: Inside, the use of white and light birch plywood expands the perceived space, creating a bright and inviting interior. The integration of skylights and strategic window placement ensures privacy while bathing the space in natural light, making it an appealing canvas for tenants to personalize.
The project’s sustainability is highlighted by the thermal mass properties of the “Jongseok Mijang” walls, which naturally regulate indoor temperature, reducing the reliance on mechanical heating and cooling systems. This feature, along with the permeable Turfstone paving, underscores the project’s commitment to environmentally responsible design.
Yosemite ADU Image Gallery
About Yeh-Yeh-Yeh Architects
Yeh-Yeh-Yeh is an innovative architectural practice based in Los Angeles, led by principals Jooyoung Chung and En Jang. With a focus on simplicity and eclectic methodology, the firm specializes in a wide range of projects, from furniture to large-scale buildings. Jooyoung, the Design Director, brings over 15 years of design experience and a Master of Architecture from SCI-Arc, while En, the Managing Director, combines her architectural expertise with strategic planning, also backed by a Master’s from SCI-Arc. Together, they reimagine materials and structures to create unique, client-focused architectural solutions.
Notes & Additional Credits
- Lead Architects: Jooyoung Chung and En Jang