Project Row Houses is a neighborhood-based nonprofit art and cultural organization in Houston’s Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American communities. The organization promotes an active, participatory strategy for urban repair. As a speculation, I designed a complex to anchor a prominent corner of its neighborhood site that would be used as a transient living and working space for artists-in-residence to continue to foster the organization’s mission. The use of stacked shipping containers came early in the design process, with total cost and a small site being primary concerns, as well as the ease of availability of the containers themselves (the site is only 7 miles from the Port of Houston). The complex consists of two stacked forms on pilotis linked by a steel frame ‘bridge’ that connects the two assemblages at the upper stories, making a total of 9 live/create units, plus one street front architecture studio, and parking at the ground floor. The ‘bridge’ was conceived as a conduit through the building, funneling residents and visitors into random interaction with one another, an attempt to provide a common, passively-cooled space where a cross-pollination of ideas could occur. Circulation space was given dual purpose in other areas of the project, too. Entry patios are shared as much as possible, either with required stair landings, or as a ‘front porch’ where temporary neighbors might be coerced to interact. The individual units, while standardized as much as possible, still give great consideration to the introduction and modulation of natural light and air through the use of the container’s operable loading doors, as well as the addition of steel frame studio spaces clad in corrugated glass creating an ‘L’ shaped interior space that provides diffuse light for visual arts production, while maintaining a measure of privacy for the artist within.
Location: Houston, TX, US