Part Office transforms Venice Beach condos into "calm" live-work units

Los Angeles design studio Part Office has renovated two condominiums on the California coast, as part of a wider conversion of buildings into hybrid residential and office spaces.

Sited directly on the Venice Beach boardwalk, the Venice Lofts occupy a pair of buildings that are undergoing updates to create a 44,000-square-foot (4,088-square-metre) complex of 12 live-work units.

Part Office used a minimal material and colour palette to transform the condos into live-work units

Phase one of the project involved the completion of two units, as well as exterior common areas, hardscaping and landscaping in collaboration with LA studio Cactus Store.

Finished without specific tenants, the spaces were designed to be neutral and flexible, with a restrained material palette of oak, concrete, steel and tile used throughout.

Modular furniture in open living area
Double-height spaces were kept open and sparsely furnished

"In contrast to similar programs, where trends within start-up culture favour bold and irreverent design gestures detached from their specific users or locations, our intent was to create a calm environment that reflected a nostalgic coastal experience," said Part Office.

Code and structural requirements meant that the building envelopes were preserved, and that units need to have an equal division of "live" and "work" spaces.

Accordion doors under mezzanine
Accordion doors allow spaces to be separated or joined as required

Due to the shift in office culture during the pandemic, the team chose to lend the units a less formal and more residential atmosphere. Although layouts of some units vary slightly, all are organised in a similar way.

Lower floors are designated primarily for residential use, with necessities like kitchens and bathrooms, while other adjustable spaces are separated by rows of accordion doors.

Stairway with concealed doors underneath
Concealed doors under the stairs open to provide storage space

Open double-height areas function as living spaces but can also be used as more casual work environments, and are sparsely populated with modular pieces crafted by LA-based Michael O'Connell Furniture.

Open workspaces can be found upstairs, furnished with custom desks that feature angular steel bases and lime-washed ash tops. Each unit also comes with its own roof deck.

Grooved oak panelling used across walls and concealed doors was also lime-washed "to create a more beach weathered appearance", and guardrails were installed with a very fine mesh "to appear like window screens overlooking the beach".

"Attention was placed on the detail, finish, and interaction of each material in order to elevate their appearance," said Part Office.

Office space with custom desks
Workspaces upstairs are furnished with custom desks

On the exterior, orange glazed tiles by ceramic artist Sofia Londono were added to breezeways to demarcate unit entries, and the planting evokes windswept coastal environments.

Venice Beach, which is known for its bohemian and creative spirit, is a popular place for small businesses like design studios and architecture firms to operate from.

Exterior space
Orange glazed tiles and coastal planting were used to enliven the exterior spaces

Furniture company Emeco recently opened a cactus-filled brand space in a converted an old sewing factory in the neighbourhood.

The photography is by Taiyo Watanabe and Gustav Liliequist.


Project credits:

Design: Part Office
Team: Jeff Kaplon, Kristin Korven, Israel Ceja
Architect of record: Klawiter and Associates
Contractor: Barling Construction
Landscape: Cactus Store
Furniture: Michael O'Connell Furniture

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