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SPECIAL MILLENNIUM ISSUE / HOME & DESIGN | C NOTES:
So Cal at the Turn of the Century

Budding Le Corbusiers

May 16, 1999|Debra J. Hotaling

Using balsa wood, fabric swatches and wood scraps, 7-year-old Emma Kramer puts the finishing touches on her house of the future: a sprawling California residence that refuses to conform to architectural tradition. "You go through here," says Kramer of the model house's entry, "and there's the bed." She points to where many of us, bogged down in convention, might mistakenly place a couch.

Kramer hones her design craft at one of the Southern California Institute of Architecture's children's workshops, programs for 6- to 13-year-olds organized by architect and educator Alla Kazovsky. The current workshop, held for eight consecutive Saturdays in SCI-Arc's edgy industrial Mar Vista quarters, has kids designing a town: hospitals, parks, restaurants and housing.

A few feet away, Max Simchowitz, 6, sprawls on the floor arranging an elaborate lever system of wood scraps for his residential design. "When you need extra room, you go like this," he explains, shuffling several wood bits Transformer-style. "It can be over 70 feet tall, but it can get small again if you want. And it moves."

One future architect, 8-year-old Will Myers, bets that we'll be sprouting aqua lungs in the next century. His underwater compound includes an office, home and his own personal bank. "It's better to keep your money right here," he says.

Adam Gunther, 9, sees a different future--one where boisterous clans of microbytes live inside PC civilizations. "They have places inside the computer where they can go to clubs and stuff," he says. "Buildings that look like this." He holds up a block of resin with a spring jutting out--the flotsam of some past SCI-Arc student project. "Hmm, it's like a Frank Gehry building," he remarks.

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