Dezeen Magazine

Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects

Bittoni Architects designs co-living project geared toward LA newcomers

California studio Bittoni Architects has completed Common Melrose, a communal living complex with 23 bedrooms that is meant to be an "affordable alternative to traditional living arrangements".

Built on a formerly vacant lot, Common Melrose stretches along a commercial avenue in an area between Central LA and Hollywood. Designed by LA's Bittoni Architects, it contains 23 furnished, rentable bedrooms and is meant to offer a pleasant and economical co-living environment for people new to Los Angeles.

White stucco walls on rectilinear living complex in Los Angeles
Common Melrose is a communal living complex in Los Angeles

"Common Melrose introduces thoughtful communal living considerations for the ever-growing population of Los Angeles newcomers without sacrificing tactful, modern design," the team said.

"It offers a more affordable alternative to traditional living arrangements that not only places residents in the heart of Los Angeles, but also fosters the community building that city transplants crave."

Common Melrose housing block in Los Angeles by Bittoni Architects
Its facade is clad in stucco

The project was backed by local firm Proper Development and the New York company Common, which operates co-living developments in multiple US cities.

Bittoni is working with Common on seven additional co-living projects in Los Angeles.

Low-slung rectilinear housing complex in LA clad in white stucco
Bittoni Architects designed the complex for city newcomers

Rectangular in plan, the development consists of two duplex-style buildings with white stucco walls and ipe wood accents.

The timber-framed buildings have various cutouts, helping break up their boxy form.

Recessed openings on housing by Bittoni Architects
Recessed openings feature on the building

Recessed openings "temper the fishbowl feeling typically associated with city dwellings," the team said.

The 8,400-square-foot (780-square-metre) development is broken up into four units, each with ground-floor communal space and a series of bedrooms on an upper level.

Open-plan kitchen and dining space within Common Melrose housing in Los Angeles
The ground levels include kitchens and dining space

Amongst the units, interior layouts vary slightly but the programmatic elements are the same.

On the ground level, one finds a living room, kitchen, dining area and laundry room. The public area is designed to "cultivate day-to-day social interactions for the building’s tenants", the team said.

Neutral interior colour palette within living room by Bittoni Architects
Interiors are defined by a neutral colour palette

Sliding doors lead to a front patio that is set behind a low fence. The fence blocks street views while still allowing tenants to feel connected to the neighbourhood.

The upper floor holds several bathrooms and either five or six bedrooms, along with cove-like balconies. The bedrooms range from 130 to 175 square feet (12 to 16 square metres).

Bedroom at Common Melrose housing complex
Rooms are fitted with comfy furnishings

Finishes include wooden flooring, plaster walls and lacquered kitchen cabinets. Rooms are fitted with comfy furnishings, potted plants and contemporary artwork. The interior design was overseen by Common's in-house team.

Atop each building is a furnished rooftop terrace.

Furnished rooftop terrace on top of Los Angeles housing block
Atop each building is a furnished rooftop terrace

"The shared roof decks provide a supplemental gathering space that allows residents to fully embrace the southern California weather and scenery," the team said.

Each bedroom at Common Melrose can be occupied by up to two people. The rent is around $1,400 to $1,600 (£1131 to £1293).

The team said the housing complex is meant to draw tenants of varying ages.

"While the appeal of co-living first drew young adults who were just starting out, an older generation has recently been drawn to this living alternative by the prospect of more social interaction — likely a result of the isolating pandemic," the team said.

Rectilinear co-housing complex in Los Angeles
The housing complex is meant to attract tenants of varying ages

High housing prices, combined with increased density and changing demographics, have spurred a growing interest in co-living arrangements in America and elsewhere.

Other examples include a micro-apartment concept in Seoul that is meant to be a "blank canvas" for residents and a small Denver complex by Productora that offers eight units and shared amenities within striking blue buildings.

The exterior photography is by Bittoni Architects. The interior photography is by Seth Caplan.

More images and plans

Site plan
Site plan
First floor plan
First floor plan
Second floor plan
Second floor plan
Roof plan
Roof plan
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects
Common Melrose by Bittoni Architects