SBCAST Architecture

Architectural Design Approach and Rationale

The Santa Barbara Center for Art, Science and Technology (SBCAST) project, is a live/work artist community located in downtown Santa Barbara.  SBCAST is an “Art, Science and Technology Live-Work Center”.  SBCAST consists of nine studio dwelling units with shared work, equipment and storage spaces.  The site is a mid-block parcel that is relatively narrow (60-80 ft.) and deep (200 ft.).

Local building Codes require a significant amount of space dedicated to the accommodation of automobiles as well as very specific requirements regarding the access of emergency vehicles.  The standard solution to these mandates would be a design that consists of either:

  1. A large parking lot in the front portion of the lot with a large building mass towards the rear of the site.
  2. One with a parking garage podium with building(s) above which would be prohibitively expensive, wasteful and bulky.

The final design favors human scale and traditional small city-walking principles over a car-centric approach.  The design pushes all the required parking to the back part of the site, effectively hiding it from view from the street.  Accordingly, all the “activating” functions (new workshops with living units above) would be clustered toward the street – creating a better small city street edge and a nicer human scale.  The front driveway is flanked by 2-story buildings that define a pervious cobblestone-paved “Entry Courtyard” (20 ft. wide x 56 ft. long).   This Courtyard functions more as a “shared street” (and a shady plaza) for both cars and pedestrians.  The four-foot wide pedestrian passage-ways to the southeast create a cozy “paseo-like” experience as well.  The design allows space for more trees throughout the site and less paved area solely dedicated to automobiles.

The completed project incorporates the most lushly landscaped exterior environment possible (given all the Code, programmatic and site constraints) with plants growing all around and over the buildings.  The project maximizes natural light and natural ventilation for the interior living and working spaces.  From a design perspective, the buildings, in and of themselves, are “background” — the quality/effect of the spaces created and the overall environment are the material factors.