Prairie View A&M University School of Architecture

From the Jury:

It’s exciting to see a project that thought of not just one house, but a collection or community of houses on a lot. This is also an academic project, so it’s important that we see this as not just about the heroic architecture, but as a reflection of a recent trend in architectural education. People are getting a little bit more aware of all these different issues, from social cohesion to disaster management, and they’re being integrated again into the schools, and there’s an understanding of the changing cycle of how the buildings might function.

The Independence Heights neighborhood was the first incorporated black municipality in Texas and was subsequently incorporated into Houston. Over time, it has faced the pressures of desegregation, redlining, freeway construction, aging infrastructure, flooding, and gentrification. More recently, the Independence Heights neighborhood sustained significant damage from Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017.

The Prairie View A&M University School of Architecture design studio utilized public interest design within a regenerative framework to address the community’s needs. Students were required to interact with the residents of the neighborhood as part of extensive research on the community, its history, and its people in order to catalyze the realization of the neighborhood’s potential. The Fly Flat sought to address the need for infill housing while achieving environmental, economic, and social resilience.

The team designed an infill pocket neighborhood with community solar that will be owned by a land trust, while the homes will be privately owned. The project utilizes a modular home design for flexibility and add-on capability, with a double roof system to reduce solar heat gain, support solar panels, and elevate the homes from the flood plain. With the modular design as well as various energy performance packages, the project delivers net zero homes that meet Houston’s 50%-80% area median income. Students employed sound building science, energy modeling, and FEMA 499 strategies to achieve energy-efficient, durable, healthy, and storm-resilient homes.

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