The 25 Best Inventions of 2015: Star Apartments

TIME: For decades, housing for the homeless has too often meant transient shelters or warehouse-­like abodes. L.A.’s Star Apartments aims to buck that trend by design; it functions more like a minivillage than a single building, says Maltzan of his third collaboration with Skid Row Housing Trust, a local nonprofit. In addition to 102 prefabricated studios, which are ingeniously staggered into four terraced stories, Star Apartments offers a ground-floor medical clinic and, above that, a garden, an outdoor running track and space for classrooms. The goal, says Maltzan, is to make the residents of its 300-sq.-ft. units—who are handpicked by the county department of health ­services—feel “like they’re part of a dynamic and intimate community,” a strategy that can help people, especially those struggling with homelessness and substance-­abuse issues, re-­establish stability in their lives.

Is prefab the future for affordable housing in Los Angeles? A case from Michael Maltzan Architecture.

The Architect’s Newspaper: The Star Apartments are Michael Maltzan Architecture’s third project for the Skid Row Housing Trust in downtown Los Angeles. In contrast to the firm’s 2009 New Carver Apartments—a sleek white cylinder with sharply faceted bays—Star is a rough-edged, asymmetrical stack of prefabricated units rising from an existing single-story podium of retail spaces.

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