Magazine article Sunset

Come on, Live Happy: In Santa Barbara, a Lighthearted Design for a Condo Complex Boosts Spirits and Fosters Community

Magazine article Sunset

Come on, Live Happy: In Santa Barbara, a Lighthearted Design for a Condo Complex Boosts Spirits and Fosters Community

Article excerpt

IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE that architecture can elevate your mood, just spend a day at Santa Barbara's Cota Street Studios. When asked about this whimsical eight-unit building, its occupants can't keep from gushing. Their eyes twinkle. They grin.

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Lisa Star, a writer and until recently a resident, discovered the complex on Craigslist when planning to move back to the States from Switzerland. "I was blown away by the Dr. Seussian aspects and the sense of Mexico and Europe converging," she says.

But it's not just architect Jeff Shelton's fanciful details--the cement plaster walls that look like whipped cream, the quirky fountains, and dollops of color everywhere--that charm everyone who sees them. It's also the social connections the four-year-old project promotes: a downtown location that encourages walking, the shared courtyards that facilitate neighborliness, and the street-facing benches, water fountains, and dog bowls, which invite the public to stop and stay a white. "Even if you think you are not a communal person," says film student and resident Lauren Wilson, "if you chose this architecture, then deep down, that must be what you are."

DESIGN Jeff Shelton Architect, Santa Barbara (jeffsheltonarchitect. …

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