Tattuplex, Tim Marble, Architect 2012
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting architect Tom Marble at the ‘Tattuplex’, an unconventional living compound destined to become a Silver Lake classic. I was met at the project by Marble and colleague Vincent Pocsik for a tour of the property which has just been completed, save for landscaping and a potential yet-to-be realized ‘water feature’ or possible ‘plunge’ . Designed for Tim Tattu, a Zen Buddhist nurse to be a ‘place for community and celebration as well as reflection and recuperation’ who sought to combine complexity of space with simplicity of materials, creating a strong indoor-outdoor connection- ‘rooms filled with light and air’- and provide a continuous ambulatory for meditative walks.
The project became an experiment to test the available prefab technologies to see how far it could be pushed to achieve a more exciting design while retaining its ecological and economic benefits. ‘The promise of Prefab was to offer a sustainable approach to housing at a modest price. Working with steel prefabricator Ecosteel, we deployed a three-axis, equilateral grid to accommodate a 1,100 square-foot one-bedroom unit below and a 600 square-foot studio above for this kit-of-parts duplex. Modest moves – like rotating the plan twelve degrees and by using pop-outs where it made sense – increased the livability of the spaces while establishing axes that opened up a multiplicity of views unavailable otherwise.
For the construction we took common, everyday materials and methods and pushed them, first by imposing the hexagonal order upon the typically rectilinear technologies of board-formed concrete and red steel, which then prompted the modification of virtually every other element – from the plumbing and mechanical systems, to the built-in cabinetry, to the off-the shelf steel stairs – standard systems all adapting to the rigors of the 60-degree geometry’. For the client, the experiment turned out to be a huge success. But it also suggests an alternative future for Prefab: less as a consumer product to be plopped down anywhere for anyone, and more as a kit-of-parts system as adaptable to the site and to the user as the imagination allows’.After earning architecture degrees from UC Berkeley and Yale, Tom Marble went on to design for the firms SOM and Morphosis, Rios Associates and The Irvine Company. He started his own firm, Marbletecture in 2001. Since then he has completed dozens of projects ranging from furniture design to public art, assisting his partner, Pae White, with a series of large-scale commissions. He has also been committed to research, probing the often antagonistic relationship of people to place, first through ‘Twelve Minutes with Frank & Dolores’ a short film he presented at the 1989 Monterey Design Conference, then in articles for trade journals, and later in book form with After the city this (is how we live) published by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design in 2008. Tom is currently working on The Expediter, an architectural film noir exploring the role of real estate development in the formation of contemporary Los Angeles. He has taught at USC, Cal Poly Pomona, and SCI-Arc and has been a visiting critic at those schools as well as UCLA and Woodbury. He taught a community-based urban studio, Urban Successionism in Colorado Springs, at Colorado College in the Spring of 2012 and is currently teaching a class, Scripted Spaces, with Norman Klein at Woodbury. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Debs Park Advisory Board in Northeast Los Angeles and is a former President of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. He served on the board of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design from 2002-07.