Collection by Erika Heet

San Diego Cadres


In 2006, architect Nathan Lee Colkitt, whose firm has designed affordable, modern housing, a challenged athletes foundation and a conceptual Cuban immigrant museum, was in search of a live/work space in San Diego he could make his own, so he consulted architect Ted Smith, who Colkitt calls “the grandfather of San Diego design/build.” Smith had a space in his multi-unit building in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood that housed tenants ranging from architects and designers to video-game creators, musicians and a hair salon. Especially appealing was the fact that the available unit was a 750-square-foot concrete tabula rasa that Colkitt could rework to accommodate both his private living space and his firm’s office. “Like every designer, I tried to find the one with the most problems, because that brings out your creativity,” says Colkitt. “This unit is oddly shaped, with every wall at an angle, and I wanted to do something more interesting than just putting up a wall in the middle.” His solution was to create two small lofts, one for reading and one for sleeping, anchored among several existing concrete columns running along one wall.

Along a busy street in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood stands the mixed-use building in which architect Nathan...
Nestled between an existing concrete wall at right and the new reading loft at left is the entrance staircase, which...
Colkitt tucked the ladder entrance to the reading loft behind the existing concrete structural column.
Just beyond the horizontal redwood slats at right is a mirrored closet area, which makes the small corridor to the...
An interplay of geometries above the dressing area and hall to the bathroom.
“The kitchen didn’t really have a home,” says Colkitt.
The sleeping loft “is kind of a parallelogram,” says Colkitt.
Colkitt hung the sleeping loft from the concrete ceiling using five steel rods—often used to support heavy mechanical...
A view from the office area toward the main entrance; behind this area is a second entrance with a small concrete patio.
Colkitt built the plywood desks and implemented bookshelf to temper the awkwardness of the wall jutting out behind it....
Near the office area is the open living area (with Mies furniture), which doubles as relaxation or meeting space.