06/17/09 3:45pm

How’d that $99k house project turn out? One reader tells Swamplot he’s impressed that a custom-designed house that “may be LEED accredited” could be completed for that price:

The event was great, if very hot ( it was a Noon yesterday). The mayor and principals involved in the project all spoke briefly, and we toured the house.

More photos from yesterday’s official opening on Jewel St. in the Fifth Ward:


03/02/09 4:00pm

Denver’s JG Johnson
Architects describes its entry in the $99K House Competition using 4 terms:

MODULAR: three modules, numerous configurations, structural insulated panels allow flexible opening installation, mass production

ADAPTABLE: responsive to different site orientations, ratios, topographies

INDIVIDUAL: different users, multifunctional spaces, architectural style variations, pride in ownership supports demographically diverse neighborhoods

ECOLOGICAL (AND ECONOMICAL): ductless climate control system, inclusion of surplus materials, highly insulated, well sealed envelope, minimal built space through inclusion of exterior spaces, glazing orientation, solar shading


02/12/09 11:26am

Next featured entry to the $99K House Competition: This design from Houston’s Glassman Shoemake Maldonado Architects. The firm calls its design the Core House:

Like many of the existing homes in the Houston neighborhood, the CORE house is a compact, single story structure that uses pier and beam construction. The CORE house is powered by a “core” module, defined as an unchanging, narrow mechanical/plumbing spine. The body can be built to suit a family’s needs, while the CORE remains the same.


02/04/09 11:27am

After a longish break, Swamplot returns with featured entries to the $99K House Competition. This design, from Houston’s Royse/Eagleton Architects, is called “A Simple House,” or ash:

ash is designed around three ideas.

1. To be as simple as possible in the building’s layout/function and construction in order to meet a construction budget of $75,000

At just over 1,200 square feet of conditioned space, ash is a small house. High volumes, an open layout, and connections to adjoining, exterior decks make the building feel much larger than its actual footprint.  The layout of the house is two volumes under a single shed roof. The smaller of the two volumes that contains the master is located on the front of the house, and frames a path to the building’s entry. The second volume is split into a private space with bedrooms and a public space that opens to an exterior deck that runs along the entire length of the building’s east side.


12/08/08 11:03am

The latest in Swamplot’s roundup of entries to the $99K House Competition: This home from Steve Pribyl of dbaArchitects in Los Angeles:

This design is for a relatively modest 1400 s.f. house that utilizes innovative techniques to create an energy-efficient residence. An ecologically friendly house will use minimal natural resources over the life of the house.

A high surface-to-volume ratio is desirable in order to use a minimal amount of raw materials during construction. A sphere is the most efficient shape to meet this criteria, but it isn’t practical in terms of existing timber framing technology. An octagon is the closest reasonable approximation of a sphere using tried and true construction materials and methods.


12/04/08 5:05pm

Next up in our $99K House Competition review: An innovative entry from Nick Gillock and Emil Mertzel of Lookinglass Architecture + Design in L.A.:

This project for an affordable, sustainable and energy efficient new 1264 square-foot home combines some conventional home-building techniques – such as below-grade utilities, an insulated concrete floor slab, concrete curbs and framed wall assemblies with pre-engineered shear panels – with an entirely new building component known as the SoyBeamâ„¢.


12/03/08 11:11am

Today’s featured entry to the $99K House Competition comes from Luca Donner and Francesca Sorcinelli of Donner & Sorcinelli Architetti in Silea — near Venice, Italy. It’s called the “Rippling House.”

The idea was to give people a home that could be built cheaply, using simple technologies, suitable for self-construction, and where they can have optimal comfort. These are the issues our studio focuses on: everyday problems. We believe that a good project should not necessarily cost more. You can give convincing answers even with limited budgets, and this project is an example.


12/01/08 3:55pm

Digsau, an architecture firm out of Philly, worked with Oldcastle Precast to come up with this $99K house entry, which uses some concrete technology more commonly encountered in Houston area civil structures:

A concrete module serves as the building block for the system, and its combination with other modules allows the structure to respond to specificities of climate, site, and individual preference. The system thus proves highly adaptable as an infill structure on vacant properties in an urban context and allowing for a diversity of exterior space in new developments.


11/26/08 11:03am

Houston architect Carl Brunsting calls his $99K House Competition entry “A Good House.” He says his

intent was to make an affordable house FOR HOUSTON, that emphasis meaning that the design was about having a sloped roof with overhangs to deal with our sun and 56 inches of rain, but without becoming something like a builder’s pastiche. It is built up off the ground like an old bungalow to keep it dry from flooding and up for privacy from the street and to avoid long-term problems with Houston’s expansive gumbo soil. It has a front porch for a lot of obvious reasons, and the overhangs all around mean that windows and doors won’t leak and you can open a window when it’s raining.


11/25/08 5:56pm

An eco-minded Houston home for only $99K? Here’s a shot at it . . . all the way from Muncie, Indiana. Michael Gibson, who teaches at Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning there and is also a research fellow at the university’s Institute for Digital Fabrication, sent in this design:

The ShotFrame House is an updated version of the traditional “shotgun” house that is frequently seen in Houston and other areas of the southern US. Shotgun houses are characterized by a series of simple rooms, lined up perfectly on a lot from front to back: providing the advantages of a small, inexpensive footprint which can be easily framed. The ShotFrame House uses a similarly aligned series of views, but improves the shotgun-style building by employing a prefabricated, computer-designed and manufactured framing system. This framing system allows the rooms . . . to expand at points along the length of the house, allowing daylight to penetrate the middle rooms.


11/24/08 4:46pm

One day before an exhibition of design-competition entries at the Architecture Center Houston Downtown closed last month, the Rice Design Alliance and the Houston chapter of the AIA held a groundbreaking ceremony at 4015 Jewel St. in the Fifth Ward. The winning entry of the $99K House Competition, designed by Seattle architecture firm Hybrid/ORA, will be built on that site by contractor D.H. Harvey and sold or auctioned through the Tejano Community Center.

The competition, held early this year, was meant to produce a prototype for “sustainable, affordable” homes of 1,400 sq. ft. or less that could be built on lots made available through the city’s Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority. The Jewel St. site was donated by LARA.

The exhibition featured 66 selected entries to the competition, out of a total of 184 submitted. Images of those entries are included in the exhibition catalog.

Swamplot featured one kudzu-wrapped competition entry back in February. Beginning tomorrow, we’ll feature a few other entries received in response to a general request for Swamplot-ready versions recently sent to the participant email list that was conveniently added to the competition website.

(Note to competition participants who somehow didn’t receive a request from us: If you’d like to send in your entry, please email Swamplot and we’ll send you a list of requirements.)

Update: Entries in this series are now on this page.

Photo of 4015 Jewel St.: Jonathan LaRocca [license]

02/06/08 3:27pm

Plan of House 99 by Gail Borden

Yes, that’s a hedge of dense kudzu wrapping around this long skinny house . . . and threatening to do the same to its Fifth Ward neighbors. The kudzu, a court of crushed oyster shells, a house-length porch, a cistern, Murphy beds, and a butterfly roof are the major features of House 99, one of five finalists in a local competition to design a “green” house for $99,000 or less.

House 99 was designed by L.A. architect and USC professor Gail Borden. The Rice Design Alliance and Houston’s chapter of the American Institute of Architects want to build the winning design of their $99K house competition at 4015 Jewel St., or on other properties swept up by the city’s Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority.

Below the fold: More drawings! More kudzu! More cost-saving measures! More greenness!