From a congested and soulless area to a pedestrian street bustling with life
How do you turn a congested concrete jungle into a place where people want to spend time? That was the challenge for Chad Cress and his team from the real estate development company DJM when they took over the outside areas of the Runway neighbourhood in Playa Vista, Los Angeles.
In the heart of Playa Vista
With big businesses like YouTube, Microsoft and Facebook nearby, Playa Vista in Los Angeles has become an epicentre for tech, and in the heart of this area is Runway. Runway is an attractive residential neighbourhood with everything you could want in terms of restaurants, cafés, shops and culture. But it took a big push for the neighbourhood to get an outside area where both residents and visitors would want to spend time together.
Lack of caring meeting places
Behind the project of transforming Runway's outside spaces was DJM, a multidisciplinary team consisting of real estate experts who aim to shape local communities and create innovative real estate solutions. They always try to dig deep into the character of the places they work with in order to create something unique. Everything is designed based on how people live, and with the intention of creating a community.
DJM found that the lack of good meeting places was one of Runway’s main issues. Cars and traffic dominated the outside area. It just wasn’t a place where people would spend time, instead they would quickly hurry by.
“There was no real public gathering space anywhere. We wanted to create a space that is integrated into the neighbourhood and something that the community of Playa Vista would be proud of,” says Chad Cress, Creative Director at DJM.
The vision for the project was therefore to transform Runway from a congested area designed for cars into a people-dominated space. An essential step towards achieving this vision was pedestrianising one of the most central and congested streets.
“By eliminating the roads that cut through the project, we were able to open up almost an acre of public space.”
DJM wanted to turn this new area into a meeting place that would function as an extension of the home. A pleasant space where people could meet up for gatherings and great conversation, and children could play. Creating such an inclusive and attractive urban space involved the crucial choice of furniture, which is where Vestre had the pleasure of contributing to the project.
“Vestre played a big part in the vision by giving us different flexible spaces that encourage people to come together for any variety of reasons and use the space and furniture for all of them,” says Cress.
Different social zones
The result was a lively urban space bustling with life, spread over various seating zones for different needs. Among the furniture collections featured are Bloc, Berg, Stoop, Code and Kong—all in a fresh and distinctive blue colour.
‘Kong cube’ is used as a fun element in the play area. It fits in well, either as something for children to play with or for adults to rest on.
There are larger and smaller seating areas with chairs and matching tables from the Bloc collection. You can bring lunch here from one of the local restaurants, and these seating areas are also perfect for informal meetings. And if you want to enjoy the sun a bit more, the sun loungers from the same series are a great place to settle down.
Exciting Code combinations
In several places, there are also various combinations of furniture from the modular Code collection. One example is an exciting combination where the components are joined together so that the wooden slats extend across all the seats and seat backs, as well as at the end of the module. This gives Code the feel of a sofa. On the other hand, the Code combination outside the supermarket has an airier expression. Here, the components stand individually, giving the impression of several separate seats.
Lively streets at last
To the questions of how the area has been used, and what the biggest change has been, Cress is in no doubt:
“I think the biggest change we have seen is just life! Rather than people just walking up and down the sidewalks, we now see families hanging out together and people walking their pets, taking meetings and relaxing throughout. There is a real sense of place now and the community is loving it.”
Location: Runway, Playa Vista, LA, USA
Developer: DJM and Invesco Real Estate
Year of completion: 2019
Visionary: Stenn Parton, DJM
Architects: Design, Bitches
Landscape Architects: Brightview