The Asteras Kings Architectural Narrative

Asteras Kings is a contemporary architectural response to the site, the urban context and the need for an enhanced high density and high performing living space in West Hollywood. The building is a new-build, four story, 25-unit apartment building (16 one-bedroom units and 9 two-bedroom units) with a theater room, roof garden with spa pool, and fitness studio amenities. The apartment building is situated adjacent to The Charlie Hotel to the east, which is a collection of historic cottage inns, and to low-rise residences to the south. Across from it on N Kings Road is MAK Center for Art and Architecture, located at the historic Schindler House.

The design of the apartment building responds to the scale of the streetscape and its surrounding context simply and elegantly by blurring the distinction between indoor and outdoor realms, while being sensitive in maintaining privacy from adjacent buildings.

It does this by organizing the residences as north-south oriented through-units along the depth of the building and arranges them adjacent to a series of vertical light atriums and horizontal breezeways. This was achieved by positioning the main circulation corridors of the upper floors to the north side, allowing all living zones to face south. Such an arrangement orchestrates natural daylighting and cross-ventilation into and around the residences and focuses the views away from larger neighboring buildings. The deep overhanging terraces are treated on the south elevation as a veiled wall with openings. This allows the occupants their preference of sun or shade, and inherently tempers the indoor temperature of the residences. This approach embraces the West Hollywood climate and integrates well-ventilated open plan interiors with indoor-outdoor rooms to promote lifestyle flexibility.

The dialogue between the building and the street was explored, unveiling a front step-back that promotes a gradient in mass from public to private zones.  This step-back softens the presence of the upper levels by dissolving the mass and refraining the apartment building from overpowering the street, while allowing it to be read as three stories. A complement to the step-back is the positioning of the amenity spaces to the front as they are buffered from the private residences.

Asteras Kings apartment residences was conceived with an approach to environmental responsibility that was catered to its unique location. It exceeds local, state, and federal energy requirements through passive environmental design. The 115 drought-tolerant trees added to the project far exceeded the planting removed for construction, resulting in a net increase of the green scape. Over fifty percent of the yard area on all sides is permeable and all roof and site drainage is collected and processed through an onsite bio-filtration system before flowing into the municipal storm system. Furthermore, the eleven-foot-deep south balcony overhangs shields the floor-to-ceiling glazing system and enhances the performance of the apartment building. This design strategy and the application of operable windows at all sides of each residential unit (at the north and south sides and at the atriums) has deliberate control of indoor air quality by delivering natural cross-ventilation.

A minimal palette of materials focuses the occupant experience on the features of the built form. The apartment building is articulated by its use of metal, glass and plaster; materials that mark the contemporary design of the building, while preserving the integrity of the neighborhood and continuing the rhythm of its urban context. A diaphanous veil of perforated metal along the north circulation corridor and surrounding the common spaces at the front preserves individual privacy and allows views out while filters light in. The careful use of plaster and glass serves to promote both privacy and connectivity to the community.

The architectural response to its sensitive siting, surrounding context, and project goals resulted in a high-performing and well-functioning apartment building with a strategically nuanced yet simple approach to heathy living. Maintaining privacy of views for its residents and neighbors and satisfying the discernable need for a minimalist open floor plan that embraces nature’s elements to create a healthy living environment were project goals that were not negotiable. These objectives were accomplished through purposeful passive design rather than relying on technology or exotic products and materials.

The architectural process was relentless in adhering to this ethos.