Fourflex – LA Low Rise Design Challenge

International Design Competition Honourable Mention

‘Fourflex’ is a competition entry undertaken with Dr Alysia Bennett. Combining the Bluefield Housing infill model with an innovate funding structure, it received an Honourable Mention and jury citation in the 2021 LA Low Rise Design Challenge: Housing Ideas for Los Angeles.

Honourable Mention: Damian Madigan and Alysia Bennett, for a thoughtful balance of individual autonomy and collective care and focus on a financing and design model that can be applied to existing housing stock as well as ground-up construction.

– Jury Citation

Fourflex is a care-driven densification strategy that leverages existing fabric, household assets and financial systems to address chronic housing-related conditions in Los Angeles.

It is conceived as one collective entity – a ‘family’ – but comprised of up to four separate and independent households on the one property title. Enabled by a hybrid of existing title and lease types, it seeks to avoid the pitfalls while reaping the benefits of each. The site stays owned and managed as one property so that the fabric, land and services can gain efficiencies of collective management and decision making. Yet, each household can operate autonomously and, most importantly, can ensure their name is recorded on a tenancy agreement. Formalising tenancy enables legal rights, access to apply for subsidies, and assists the City of Los Angeles in keeping citizens safe while understanding existing residential practices.

Four care-driven objectives shape the form, function and finance of Fourplex housing. These respond to civic and environmentally focused care ambitions and aim to correct imbalances that have emerged as the traditional economic value of housing has suppressed its social role.

Ten design principles turn the abstract objectives into concrete design attributes that shape the site, buildings and individual apartments. The proposed design receives one point for each principle met. The point tally is the project’s overall Fourflex score.

A Fourflex score of 9 or 10 unlocks extra construction subsidies that might not otherwise be available to the homeowner. By doing so, the Fourflex score system aims to incentivise an increase in the design quality of indoor and outdoor space and a positive contribution to low rise neighborhood character.

Recommended citation:
Madigan, Damian and Bennett, Alysia. “Fourflex: Competition Entry, LA Low Rise Design Challenge 2021.” Adelaide and Melbourne: University of South Australia and Monash University, 2020.