The Continental

California is in a housing and environmental crisis.

There is a shortage of energy efficient apartments at a price point working class people can afford. This unfortunate situation is driving people farther away from the city and creating a further reliance on the automobile. One of the main drivers of this increase in costs is parking. Parking takes up a tremendous amount of space, drives up construction costs, and delays construction.  If we can maintain proximity of workers to their work we can eliminate the car. Unfortunately urban living has become too cost prohibitive, developers are focusing on luxury two bedroom apartments over parked with expensive amenities.

The original notion of the project was to create a two part project; a family townhome with its own commercial space below and a demonstration prototype project that would eliminate parking and provide efficient workforce micro housing. The townhome would promote growing families to return to an urban environment and the micro housing would solve the affordability and housing shortage problem in the State of California.  Each project wanted to have its own identity and the townhome was situated to claim the corner. Unfortunately neighborhood pushback inevitably required 11 parking spaces.

With only a 5,000 square foot postage stamp lot this project has 42 apartments, 5 of which are very low income, commercial spaces on the ground floor and a distinctly separate single family home. At nearly 390 dwelling units per acre this project could quickly be multiplied and replicated throughout urban transit areas. Core uses of the building are pushed to the neighboring property lines opening up all street frontages to natural airflow and day lighting.

Similarly instead of burying the laundry in the basement the common laundry area becomes a community gathering space. Tenants can now enjoy the fresh air, other building residents, and the view of San Diego bay while completing their laundry on the top floor of the building.

The micro housing project element embraces and surrounds the corner single family home referred to as “The Cube”. The Cube floats above a commercial space with floor to ceiling glazing. On the living level of the Cube a massive planter extends out and holds a 25-year-old strawberry tree suspended in mid air. The homes privacy and shade is provided by this tree to the south and it filters and cools air through its shading leaves as it enters the home.

The main structure consisting of the micro units rooftop is covered with solar panels and HVAC, all core services are fully offset by rooftop solar and the building exceeds Title24 requirements by 16.9%. The lower rooftop of the 3 bedrooms residence is a large rooftop garden, lined with citrus trees and drought tolerant grasses. The emphasis on providing a long-term green building is also evident in the low maintenance requirements of all of the surfaces of the buildings.





Total 0 Votes

Tell us how can we improve this post?


Verify Human or Spambot ?

  • Orchid Nominee

  • Project Address:

    320 West Cedar St., San Diego

    Project Owner/Developer:

    Jonathan Segal FAIA

    Owner Contact Name/Email:

    Matthew Segal

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Matthew Segal AIA and Jonathan Segal FAIA

    Image Credit:

    Matthew Segal


Contact Us

Contact Us



P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

Sign Up

Stay on top of your Architectural news

Orchids & Onions is an educational and fundraising program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and the promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

Get in the Mix