Olive West is a densification project adjacent to downtown St. Louis, with a general plan conceived by Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO consisting of town and garden houses designed by the studio and a group of renowned architects including MOS Architects (USA), Productora (Mexico-USA), and Estudio Macías Peredo (Mexico), among others. Emily Rauh Pulitzer, philanthropist and founder of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, initiated this project as an attempt to understand the living typology of this century. Neglected due to its typical single-row, townhouse typology, the neighborhood has been suffocating since St. Louis major financial crisis of 2007-2009. However, situated among a confluence of residential, commercial, educational, and cultural spaces, it has become a booming interest of revival.
Named after the street that it revolves around, Olive West recognizes the need for quality housing that predisposes communal development through shared spaces, and aims for more inclusive ways of living. The general plan reacts to the cultural character of its inhabitants by creating its own center of production and meeting place within the historic Wolfner Library, as well as spaces of communal leisure and play positioned between the housing units. The symbiosis of private outdoor spaces and residential amenities positioned between the housing units. The symbiosis of private outdoor spaces and residential amenities positioned in-between units compose the park-like atmosphere of the project while varying degrees of privacy and nuanced communal meeting places generate environments in which people feel comfortable participating. Historic architectural elements, statues, and large-scale objects were recovered from the National Buildings Arts Center, located on the outskirts of the city, and placed in the landscape.
In its new context, they become curious objects of uncertain use, their presence invites incidental interaction, creating an open gallery where each artifact tells the story of the site through its past life. The design of Olive South West, a garden house inspired by the traditional dog-trot house, includes a central breezeway to ventilate the adjacent rooms during the hot and humid summers. The massing of the house is perpendicularly stacked to provide shade to the ground-floor porches while creating two modest roof gardens above, doubling the amount of potential usable outdoor living space for the family and creating various possibilities for private and public activities.