In the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, architects Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice of Knowhow Shop have designed and built a new office for their design studio in their backyard. Named ‘Lighthouse’, the project is a micro-building that is a place for work and also a physical example of the studio’s thinking and practice.
Starting initially with small projects and unusual requests Knowhow Shop has built a reputation as a laboratory for material exploration, a conservatory of both digital and traditional craft, and a community space for strange and imaginative happenings. In their own architecture and design work Justin and Kagan continue to approach projects with a craftsperson’s sensitivity, genuine good humor, and a belief that what they make can redirect the discipline from the hyper-digital to a real-surreal.
Lighthouse is a micro-building designed and built like a piece of furniture. “We discarded typical details and assemblies in favor of new methods of construction from the ground up”, explains the duo. “The result is a project designed to test our craft in materials and our perceptions of space.”
“From a door with no right angles to a custom-made skylight that marries traditional boatbuilding materials with details borrowed from a car sunroof, to shop fabricated and mitered SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) joined with film industry hardware,” adds the studio. “This is not a project that we would have been able to hand off to a contractor to execute, so we bypassed the normal methods of architectural production, and relied on the most experimental potential of our design/build model. Lighthouse is an office for our business, a showcase of our craft, and an example of the huge potential within rethinking the way we design and build.”
Lighthouse is named to reflect both its construction system: lightweight prefabricated panels that are assembled on site with minimal impact to the environment, and its iconic openings: an oversized and entirely custom door, window, and operable skylight that provide plenty of natural light during the day and project a warm inviting glow at night. Without the necessity of a traditional foundation, Lighthouse rests on industrial casters originally designed to support roll-off dumpsters and can be moved around the shop yard to facilitate material deliveries and flexible outdoor space. “We hope that future Lighthouses will become beacons for those searching for smaller sustainable buildings that embrace contemporary architectural design,” said Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice.