The Possibility of a Cul-de-sac
Alicia Chen and Ian Amen
The University of Texas at Austin
From the Jury:
The search for a certain connectivity in a suburban environment is absolutely applaudable. Also, to make a project that has sensibilities and nuances that go beyond the pamphlet-like attitude of a clear idea, which is often developed in studios, is interesting to see. Another important thing about this project is the understanding that society does not all come from nuclear families. To actually find spaces for improved urban performance — and to think this through from the home to the city — is remarkable.
A response to East Austin’s Holly neighborhood, this proposal challenges the typical associations lent to modernist affordable housing projects, with a site strategy that recognizes the incongruity of scale between single-family dwellings and mixed-use, mid-rise apartments as potential for new forms of cohabitation.
The designers manipulated and reorganized the architectonics of a typical, nuclear single-family home with that of a modern housing block to create neighborhoods with a range of household types. Interaction among the various residents is encouraged via centralized public functions that include a communal kitchen as well as a community center with lecture rooms, library stacks, and childcare services.
Removing the kitchen from individual apartment units allows for more efficient interiors and results in a housing project that achieves desired density while maintaining the intimacy of scale and space present in single-family homes. The use of typical and mundane construction methods to resolve the variety of forms and scales respects the project’s economy of means.