Rethinking Architectural Design: Environmentally-Conscientuous Solutions for Urban Apartments

Rethinking Architectural Design to Incorporate Environmentally friendly solutions for Urban, Multi-family Housing in LA

Due to the increased focus on the environmental impact of building materials, sustainability, and the influx of EVs — incorporating these new societal values through structural changes to older urban apartments in LA is essential to succeeding at becoming a more environmentally-friendly community. Despite the vast number of small urban homes that would benefit from these renovations, I chose to focus on a community of town homes in Culver City, California.

This plot of land was historically owned by MGM studios, and the land was used for the famous Gone with the Wind set. This set of studios was later bought and developed into a 430 unit condominium complex. Below are photos (1946) of the land that was later bought by the Tara Hill owners.

TH Photo 4                       Historical Tara Hill Photo2 , Gone w Wind                           Historical Photo 3



In 1973, the Tara Hill Condominiums were built, a process that took some time — given the large size of the space. And since then, there have not been any significant changes to the original structures that were built in 1973. While still staying up to date with plumbing and electric regulations, other beneficial, but not crucial, changes have yet to be made. Below are some photos of the current EXTERIOR structures at Tara Hill.



And here are some images of the INTERIOR of the town-homes:

As I explored the structures at Tara Hill, I constructed some architectural sketches of the interior & exterior spaces, as seen below. 
*The roof of each townhouse is flat and solid, but to give a better illustration of the interior architecture, I made the decision to depict the roof as triangular and clear. (THIS SPECIFIC STRUCTURE IS NOT ACCURATE)



What kind of changes do I hope to implement to make the community more environmentally-friendly?

EV Charging Stations



As electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity, a couple significant benefits to these vehicles have been pinpointed. To begin, Energy Security is an important factor for the United States as a whole. Moving from vehicles reliant on the increasingly-expensive petroleum to electric vehicles, has the potential to reduce the U.S’s dependence on imported petroleum and will subsequently increase our energy security. Additionally, the fuel economy is positively affected. EVs and HEVs generally have a better fuel economy and have lower fuel costs than more conventional automobiles. This movement from conventional vehicles to electric or hybrid ones can reduce fuel costs because of the high efficiency of electric motors. One of the most focused on topics, regarding electric vehicles, is the reduction in its emissions. Although the emissions from hybrids do vary, it is safe to say that the majority of EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. Overall, the introduction of EVs into the present population could benefit communities economically and environmentally. These impacts push the Los Angeles communities towards a smaller carbon footprint and less-expensive fuel costs.

One large obstacle that has impaired the progression of introducing EVs into communities, is the financial burden and lack of available charging stations. In order to combat one of those problems, incorporating 1 – 2 stations per unit (in which 1 unit = 16 town-homes) could create an incentive for the working class to consider EVs as a vehicle of choice.

Below, are three models of how I would hope to incorporate the charging stations into the current parking structures provided for the residents:




Solar panels


Solar panels reduce air pollution. By standing in for harmful fossil fuels, the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane gases could be lowered significantly. In addition, the use of solar can diminish the amount of water pollution that persists through many aquatic ecosystems. Ultimately, solar reduces air and water pollution, and reduces the need for finite resources, such as oil.

Utilizing this new form of energy, even if it is just – initially – for community purposes could result in huge improvements.

The addition of the triangular roofs increases the surface area of the panels, thus allowing them to capture more light energy. 

What kinds of changes will improve the living experience of the residents? 

  • Increased Natural Light

Despite the already very nice interior of the Tara Hill Homes, some rooms would benefit from more natural light, & a couple rooms do not have any light fixtures at all. The kitchen, living room, and bedrooms currently lack the most light, so my remodels are focused to those three rooms. I aim to create more light by adding windows and creating a more open space by simplifying the architecture in each space.

  • Re-design of interior spaces to improve space efficiency

The interiors of Tara Hill have not been renovated in quite a few years, and I believe that making this changes could essentially help “catch-up” the architecture to present-day architectural themes & designs.

In the figures below I have drafted some models that could possible incorporate more natural lighting and could improve the space efficiency and overall design of each home. 

KITCHEN REMODEL (additional window and redesign of building material and space efficiency)




LIVING ROOM REMODEL (additional natural light)

Additional skylights will allow for the entrance of more natural light, giving the living room a more peaceful & relaxed tone.

* This portion of the roof will also have solar panels, but fewer than on the latter side of the roof)



Additionally, the re-organization of space leads to a more open and coherent flow throughout the kitchen-living room-dining room dynamic.


















The addition of 3 small higher-up windows provides for the entrance of more natural light. This illumination of the bedrooms, which are in the back of the home, really brightens the space and makes it more inviting.












Through this project, I hope to raise awareness about the multitude of changes that can be made across all communities, regardless of location, social, or economic class. As the fight to raise awareness of global warming becomes increasingly dire, making changes like this can only benefit the environment. Due to Los Angeles huge number of urban homes and high levels of emission, small changes, such as the incorporation of solar panels and installation of EV charging stations, can make all the difference. Thank you so much for taking the time to view my presentation, and I hope it encourages local communities to work to decrease their footprint on their surrounding environments.

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