Community First! Village Micro House #710

Architecture Firm(s):  McKinney York  Architects

Owner: Community First! Village

Location: Austin, Texas

Category:  Up to $150,000 in construction cost (category one)

This micro house joins 129 similar homes in Community First! Village, a 27-acre community near Austin developed to provide permanent housing and support for the chronically homeless in Central Texas. The house was designed for phase one of the community and was born from a design competition hosted by AIA Austin. The competition sought a home design that takes advantage of the site, harnesses passive heating and cooling, and is built from energy-efficient and cost-effective materials.

The design was informed by a collaborative process that engaged the homeless person for whom the home was designed and staff members at Mobile Loaves and Fishes, the ministry that operates Community First! Village. The central concept is the intersection of universal and specific mediated by sustainability. The home’s formal components are a generic white box that evokes a modernist idea of shelter as a place-neutral space and a canopy and screened porch that tie it to a specific locale.

“A great example of how you can make a simple design move to create a big social impact. The project empowers the community with the simplicity of its design.” - Jury comment

The house’s carefully proportioned white box is animated by the porch and the ice-house roof perched above. The orientation of the porch allows it to capture the prevailing summer winds while offering shelter from winter winds that blow from the north. Throughout, the humble and modular materials used in the house’s construction present a straightforward aesthetic expression, an opportunity presented by the limited, pro-bono budget. In addition to the design effort, the team sourced or donated all construction materials and labor.

“A great example of how you can make a simple design move to create a big social impact. The project empowers the community with the simplicity of its design,” noted the jury. “The project takes a simple habitable box and with a few bio-climatic strategies transforms it into a passively cooled space.”

“The project takes a simple habitable box and with a few bio-climatic strategies transforms it into a passively cooled space.” - Jury comment

On a local scale, the house fosters social equity by supporting the village’s goals for men and women dealing with chronic homelessness. But on an even smaller scale, it promotes equity through the orientation of its screened porch, which faces the public realm.

Additional information

General Contractor:  BEC Austin

Jury

Bhaskar Srivastava, AIA, (Chair), dencityworks, Brooklyn, NY

Kevin Erickson, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

Jonah Stanford, AIA, NeedBased, Santa Fe, NM

Janeen Harrell, AIA, Janeen Harrel Architect, GREC Architects, Chicago, IL

Image credits

Community First- Village Micro House #710-03

Thomas McConnell

Community First- Village Micro House #710-04

Thomas McConnell

Community First- Village Micro House #710-05

Thomas McConnell

Community First- Village Micro House #710-06

Thomas McConnell

Community First- Village Micro House #710-07

Thomas McConnell