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The Watts House Project builds The Platform for artist-driven neighborhood revitalization

The Watts House Project (WHP) is an artist-driven neighborhood redevelopment organization.  Artists and design professionals, in collaboration with the Watts Towers area residents, employ art as an economic and community development engine to enhance the quality of residential life in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Inspired by the neighboring Watts Towers, WHP brings residents together in a creative partnership with artists, architects, design professionals, and volunteers to revitalize the neighborhood and re-imagine the environment through inventive programming, community involvement, and functional and creative housing renovations.

What exactly is “The Platform?”

In May 2009, WHP purchased the abandoned and blighted Platform to maximize its investment in the community. Due to its close proximity to the Watts Towers, the revitalization of the Platform has been designed from the project’s inception to be complementary to the design and spirit of the historic monument. Hughesumbanhowar Architects are contributing the design, elevations and working drawings, reflecting sensitivity to the built environment (all on a pro-bono basis).

The three structures that make up The Platform have weathered the gradual decay associated with decades of neglect and a lack of maintenance and re-investment. Each building requires substantial rehabilitation and basic services, such as power, plumbing, insulation, windows, and siding to be restored. The architectural firm’s concept is to distinguish each with a new design that will be compatible with the surrounding environment and brighten the exteriors of the simple houses, in order to extend the outdoor area and bring much needed light into the spaces and enhance their use and experience.

With support from ArtPlace, WHP will completely renovate the three freestanding structures that constitute The Platform into a unified group of structures that will be habitable and productive. The Platform will host community events and public programs, feature exhibition space, an artist-in-residence, as well as space for an administrative offices.

Why are we doing it?

The Platform serves as the hub and base of operations for a number of projects and community programs. Its full renovation will provide a wealth of services to the Watts Tower community. The current programs include a Family Arts and Education Summer Series, Watts Arts Lecture Classroom Series, and Grassroots Job Training. It is also the management and operation base for WHP’s upcoming housing renovations the Love House, Madrigal House, and the Garcia House.  The Platform’s renovation will assure a safe, sanitary and aesthetic atmosphere for the delivery of programs and the planning and operations of projects..

WHP’s interaction and creative activity with and among community members make this rehabilitation an exciting endeavor. The restoration of the three structures that comprise The Platform will constitute a symbolic icon that speaks to a true community/artist collaboration. Built in the 1930s, the three freestanding one-story structures were among the first homes in the Watts Towers neighborhood and have witnessed social chaos, transformation and decline for decades. Since this time, the surrounding community has waited patiently for resources and reinvestment in the area. This renovation is an important step in revitalizing the neighborhood and restoring the faith and trust of its residents in the community.

This project underlines WHP’s commitment to stimulate community and economic development in disenfranchised and underserved communities through art and design.

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