David Baker Architects

More-Plex: A Dynamic Kit for Collaborative Living


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View of landscape armature from the street. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

 

Designed for the Lowrise LA competition with Fletcher Studio, More-Plex is a conceptual proposal to add incremental density to a single-family lot.

The thought exercise transformed a single-family lot into a community, changing over time to house multiple generations and family types. More-Plex reimagined the relationship between housing, outdoor space, and opportunity in single-family neighborhoods.

The flexible system empowers individuals, families, and communities to achieve equitable housing that suits their changing needs. The kit democratizes development with adaptable prefabricated building and landscape components that allow residents to build what they need, where they need it, when they need it. We strategized an assembly that included a live/work studio, live/work loft, 2-bedroom home and a 2-bedroom family flex unit with an inlaw suite, and space for a tiny home ADU. The five different homes each open up onto private exterior space and share outside amenities like a garden and playspace.

View into the courtyard. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

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Site plan. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

 

More-Plex reimagines traditional site layouts to get “more” out of every square foot and adjacency. In a typical LA mid-block residential site, the front yard is an unused buffer between the neighborhood and the residence, and a standard home is not always appropriately scaled to each occupant. This system annexes the front yard, activating this valuable community-facing area, and allows residents to develop the larger site over time, incrementally densifying a single lot with zones that support a range of residents. Not merely an efficient, sustainable construction methodology, More-Plex’s modularity responds to the evolving needs of its users, enhancing social resilience and well-being.

In LA’s housing market, ownership is dominated by those with access to financial capital and existing housing stock, rented out at personal profit. To address this increasingly elite privilege, the More-Plex system shifts local typologies toward a new model: with affordable, interchangeable components, it retools land management, home-building, and housing stability in favor of all people.

The kit includes a range of unit configurations designed for flexible living, working, and community scenarios. The components—structural frames, infill panels, prefabricated units, trellises, porches, and other modules—prioritize carbon-neutral materials, such as cross laminated timber and all-electric systems. Individual units can be linked along a contiguous yard by an iconic trellis that offers shade, infrastructure, and space for community programs. More-Plex supports “non-traditional” living situations—alternatives to the stereotypical cis-nuclear family—such as multigenerational families, cooperative tenancies, and integrated live/work arrangements. The components allow personalized ownership of a small-scale development, increase residents’ housing stability, and work as an anti-displacement system. Designed for pre-approval and expedited permitting, the easy-to-use kit reduces the time, finance, and knowledge burdens that are common barriers to self-determined building. It meets necessary standards, safeguards, and building code requirements and instills agency in the do-it-yourself resident.

Courtyard view looking toward the live/work units. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

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Section through single family lot. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

View of the community kitchen. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

This system prioritizes and supports the equitable distribution of open spaces with a spectrum of privacy. Inspired by LA’s historic bungalow courts and ubiquitous side driveways, More-Plex leverages a connective outdoor space for multifunctional site organization. It allows open space to contract and expand, from green portal to common courtyard, hosting such outdoor programs as community kitchens, play areas, dog runs, workshops or repair stations, edible gardens, and bike and car storage. The operable shade structure transforms LA’s archetypal outdoor spaces: The driveway, courtyard, and side yard merge into a social corridor that functions at the scale of the lot, entire block, or the neighborhood beyond. The system’s modularity opens opportunities for multi-parcel configurations.

More-Plex restores shade to poorer neighborhoods that have been stripped of trees in favor of surveillance. The adaptable shade components serve to reduce heat islands, foster microclimates, collect rainwater, define urban farming zones, and provide comfort. Further, structures that incorporate shade, solar panels, basic water and power infrastructure, and lighting are placed in the front yard to shelter a use like food truck and guest seating and in the backyard to create shaded space and hookup for a tiny home ADU. Flexible plazas prioritize active uses and can be utilized for parking as needed.

Interior of live/work unit. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

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Street elevation. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

California is renowned for its indoor-outdoor lifestyle. As climate change continues to exacerbate summers, decreasing people’s ability to be comfortable outside, this highly functional shade structure system weaves through the site, responding to changing uses and climate challenges.

The More-Plex kit of dwelling units and supportive components can be assembled in numerous site-specific, community-customized orientations. Whether fully built out at once or deployed over time to add incremental density, this solution enhances housing stability, ownership opportunities, and community resilience.

Site plan. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

View into the courtyard. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Courtyard view looking toward the live/work units. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Street elevation. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Section through single family lot. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

View of landscape armature from the street. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

View of the community kitchen. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Interior of live/work unit. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Incremental Density Phase 1. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Incremental Density Phase 2. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Incremental Density Phase 3. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

Incremental Density Phase 4. Image: David Baker Architects and Fletcher Studio

project details

Category

All Projects, DBA_Lab, Unbuilt

​Location

Architect

David Baker Architects

Landscape Architect

Fletcher Studio

Permalink

www.dbarchitect.com/moreplex

project data
Los Angeles, California L2002
Unbuilt
number of units
live/work studio 1
live/work loft 1
ADU 1
2 bedroom 1
family flex 1
total 5
construction type
2 stories Modular