Magenta House

Magenta House is remaking homes across Los Angeles Council District 5 into models of power efficiency and water conservation. We call them “Magenta Houses” for the way they serve as markers of a resilient future.

Magenta Houses are the result of a volunteer corps of trained do-it-yourselfers and specialist advisors working together in old fashioned barn-raising style to make water- and power-wise building and landscape improvements happen in a flash, using specially designed Magenta House DIY kits. In a grand finale, we then showcase the homes for neighbors and give tours to media, describing the plans, talking about what was done, and giving away as many of the devices and ideas used as possible so that Magenta Houses can spread in every District neighborhood and beyond.

We want to make the idea of living in or helping to create a Magenta House an amazing experience. Training for volunteers and creating DIY kits will make the job easier than imagined.

And getting communities involved in barn-raising fashion with plenty of help and great potluck meals will turn an otherwise lonely task into a neighbor-helping-neighbor event that gets people working together to shape the futures they want, hands on.

In the process, we will reach out to some twenty diverse faith traditions, ten faith- and eco-based networks, and some forty congregations.

Our Magenta House Initiative:

  • Creates specific and highly visible models of change. By specific, we mean hyper-local street addresses. By visible, we mean places that stand out and signal a different kind of future – one that’s more conscious, more alive, and engaging.
  • Leverages community to get the job done. We unite the strength of old, established communities (like faith-based) with all the creativity of younger ones (say, communities of designers) to come together around big challenges. The synergies will be surprising – and amazing.
  • Communicates about deadly serious matters with a light touch. We are fond of quoting the marketing genius Alex Bogusky, who maintains that behavioral change has to be fun or else “nobody is going to do it.”

The Plan

Production plans divide naturally into three periods, as follows:


  • Pre-production and set-up. On-board CD5 faith communities to help identify: volunteers for teams to help create Magenta Houses, and promising locations of candidate houses. On-board student volunteers from design/architecture/landscape programs enrolled in area college and university programs. Involve experts for consultation in home power efficiency and water conservation. Additional ramp-up activities include: project set-up for management, tracking and reporting (including financial reporting); materials prep; location selections for meetings.
  • Meet with team to create Magenta House implementation model. Create publicity and awareness strategies (aim to employ best and field-tested ideas generated by the previous LADWP-funded WATER AND POWER BLITZ) and launch as appropriate, concurrent with the rest of these plans. Develop DIY Magenta House kits.
  • Begin process of selecting candidate houses based on diversity, willingness and flexibility; with power and water challenges that match LADWP tips/resources/devices, and that have the potential to showcase a dramatic turn-around. At this point, we are assuming Magenta House makeovers to be single-family homes, but we will consider other options, such as a multi-family or even institutional structures affiliated with faith communities in the District. Prepare for team training.


  • Train the volunteer teams on implementing water conservation and power efficiency solutions, integrating volunteers from faith and student design/ architecture/landscaping communities; involve subject matter experts. We expect three teams of some 6-10 people each with diversity in ages, backgrounds, and skills. Participants are expected to use water and power-saving tips/resources/ devices in their own homes, and to practice sharing these ideas with friends and family, as part of the learning process.
  • Choose three houses from among the candidate pool to become Magenta House showcase models.
  • Teams meet to conceive power and water makeover plans with each of the three owners/managers of the makeover locations. Develop plans with the full range of LADWP resources in mind.


  • Extreme makeover work bees are launched at the three houses chosen to be transformed into Magenta Houses, with potluck lunches and imbuing the spirit of old fashioned barn raisings. Improvements are well planned so that transformations happen quickly in a fast-paced environment.
  • Official Magenta House certifications awarded, based on open and quantitative measures. Showcase event open-house style, inviting the neighbors and encouraging strong community involvement. Short talks describe the work that was done, why and how. Rebates are offered and explained, devices given away. Opportunity to tour all locations, with grand finale event and end-of-day party. Social media and publicity campaign. Media documentation.
  • Attendees will be encouraged to create their own Magenta Houses with our DIY kits. We will offer certification in exchange for documentation and assessment, and provide web hosting for tracking registrants.
  • Wrap, document, and prepare high quality report to encourage efficient replication of the Magenta House model. Debrief on what worked/what didn’t and develop strategy to scale concept so that this does not become a single island of success.

Key Partners

MAGENTA HOUSE is made possible by Pasadena City College Fabrication Lab, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and produced in association with Los Angeles City Council member Paul Koretz (Council District 5).