structure divided into four equal parts with missing sections of roof, walls, and floors

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Los Angeles-based architecture firm MUTUO‘s structure begins with the true story of Abraham.

Hard-working and skilled, Abraham, an immigrant from Mexico, has a steady income, pays his bills, and lives without debt. With no payroll history, he does not fit the traditional description of a home loan borrower.

Abraham finds himself stuck outside a system carefully designed to minimize risk and create wealth.

This system’s financing regulations, land acquisition practices, and complex permitting processes and building codes, create barriers that prevent many people from owning a house.

To spark a conversation around this reality, MUTUO invites visitors to explore an abstract concept of a home while considering what it means to create a flexible housing system.


As MUTUO knows, the house is only a small piece of a more complex system.
This existing system consists of:
Elements, or individual parts such as land acquisition, financing, permitting, and construction
Rules that must be followed
Goals, which come in the form of monetary gain

MUTUO asks the question, what does a more inclusive housing system look like and what paths can be created to include housing for all?

To express the system’s complexity, MUTUO used the medium of collage to create an emotional response to the confusion that occurs during the home ownership process, especially for people who do not fit the mold of a typical home buyer.

Using this collage, MUTUO created an interactive experience to highlight these challenges. Click here to interact with it.

The driving concept for MUTUO is to ignite creative thinking around inclusivity in homeownership.

Learn from
the Architects


This project is not a three dimensional solution but rather an impetus to challenge expectations and assumptions about the housing system by sparking dialogue and questions.

To engage visitors in this thought process, MUTUO invites guests to first move through a rigid grid of columns.

These columns lead indirectly to a fragmented prototype of a home and represent the stumbling blocks to home ownership in the current housing system. It consists of conceptual grids, posts, pottery, and a representation of an incomplete home.

The home itself is divided into four equal parts representing the bedroom, the kitchen, bathroom, and living area. This traditional model is then turned inside out with parts of the roof, walls, and floors missing.

Each element is meant to raise questions:
What is missing?
What underlying factors about housing are not being discussed?
What if housing changed from a market value commodity that creates wealth to a human value that promotes security, community, and equity?
What would make it possible for a homebuilder like Abraham and his family to own a home?
structure divided into four equal parts with missing sections of roof, walls, and floors


Artisans in the Mexican state of Michoacan created the three wooden and clay handcrafted columns that sit within this installation using ancestral fabrication techniques.

These techniques have survived colonization and industrialization and are a symbol of cultural resilience.

The two carved wood columns were fashioned in the village of Cuanajo using a technique comprised of Indigenous knowledge of the Purepecha people, and the mudejar techniques brought by Spanish colonizers.

The center pottery column inside the structure is built out of stacked, hand-molded cocuchas (mud-based pottery fired at ground level and air-dried), a precolonial handcraft from the Purepecha village of Cocucho.

The inclusion of these unique columns into this installation represents a rejection of the idea that the housing system must be a rigid set of rules and instead celebrates the customization, empowerment, and diversity that can exist within a flexible housing system.

This piece of pottery and the wood column create cultural connections to the structure.
Fernanda Oppermann and Jose Herrasti


MUTUO, led by Jose Herrasti and Fernanda Oppermann is a Los Angeles-based architectural design firm with a diverse cultural background.

They believe in expanding the traditional roles of the architecture firm into a more dynamic presence with greater influence on creating built environments and solving complex urban challenges.

They believe that architecture is the physical manifestation of people’s unique stories and that it provides the opportunity to reconcile a multitude of different perspectives into one cohesive vision.

Special thanks to the project team:


Fernanda Oppermann
Jose Herrasti
Monica Lamela Blazquez

Structural Feasibility Study

Nous Engineering: Matt Melnyk

Remote Site Facilitator

Dillonroane: Ed Roane

Mexican Research & Handcraft Acquisitions

Dirceu and Michelle Aguilla

Cocuchas (Pottery) Artisans

Francisca Elias Asencio
Felix Santiago Pacheco Elias

Column Artisan

Edgar Servin Ibañez

Steel Fabrication

William Hernandez


Guillermo Pelayo
Bryan Pelayo
Christian Arita

Story Inspiration

Abraham Nolasco

detailed interior view including wood and pottery columns


High rise building with one side painted pink
MUTUO’s portfolio of existing work is the precedent for their approach to tackling the issue of attainable housing.

Their past projects are known for using ordinary building materials to create extraordinary structures.

This method of working uncovers new perspectives and provides solutions to pressing challenges as shown in their Boyle Tower project. Here, they use precast concrete drainage culverts as a means to build housing in an efficient, well-designed, affordable way.

These compact units, composed of four interlocking boxes (kitchen, bedroom, living room, bathroom) are a viable solution to helping with the lack of housing in Los Angeles.

A rendering showing how Boyle Tower will fit into the landscape. MUTUO in collaboration with Urb-in. Mural by Miguel Nobrega. Rendered image by Luis Tornel.

Explore this Exhibit in Virtual Reality

Explore the Architecture at Home virtual reality tour. Walk along the trail, view each structure in-depth, and read interpretation labels. Simply click the play button to get started.

In the lower left hand corner, click the second icon for "View Floor Plan" to see a map of the structures. Click the first icon to return to exploring the 3D space.