Backyard Homes proposes innovative, flexible, environmentally sensitive, and affordable architectural models for infilling Southern California's iconic single-family residential fabric. In the City of Los Angeles alone, a half million lots are zoned single-family, and recent state legislation makes it easier to construct a second dwelling unit on each property. This radical step has the potential to restructure sprawl in an intrinsically responsive manner: rather than unwanted, large-scale development, homeowners and neighborhoods can incrementally make their own homes more flexible and more affordable. In addition, if we add a sizable number of Backyard homes, we could significantly reduce the single-family zone's waste of non-renewable resources, particularly land and energy. Our studies find that resistance to such infill housing is ill-founded: neighborhood character remains the same, strain on infrastructure is not significant, and building one infill home at a time allows communities to control development.

To encourage Backyard Homes, cityLAB draws three fundamental conclusions from its research. First, building a Backyard Home should resemble a retail transaction rather than a standard construction process. Second, the Backyard Home prototype must be customizable, given the infinite range of backyard site conditions and the diverse functional needs of households. Third, while a Backyard Home will not be appropriate for every lot, a few pilot demonstrations must be built to get things rolling. By promoting the incremental nature of Backyard Homes, we can envision how a largely suburban city can evolve into a more sustainable, post-suburban metropolis. Take a look at our Backyard Homes Book pdf here to see a summary of the work through 2010.

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CNN Article
Newsweek Article
Daly Genik
AARP Research
California Legislation

2014 Backyard Homes Report: Local Concerns
2010 Rx for the R1: Sustaining the Neighborhood
2010 The Shadows of LA
2010 Backyard Homes Book

Backyard Homes Images