The city of Houston has grown through a policy of territorial annexation and leap-frogging developments, resulting in a suburban patchwork of enclaves and interstices. The resulting morphology is characterized by left-over spaces between suburban parcels: thin gaps belonging to and maintained by no one. ALCOVA proposes a wall of collective housing to reclaim these linear domains. The project takes the form of a densely packed infrastructural spine dividing an open and negotiable interior. The inhabited wall serves as a cabinet for the body, embedding all necessary infrastructure for living–bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, storage–within the poché of its walls. By densely packing the programs of daily life into the wall, the resultant spaces are freed from domestic infrastructure and opened for collective use. Typologically opposed to the autonomous unit of the single-family home, the dense inhabitable wall and the shared live-work space produces a new form of domesticity. Grounded in co-production and collective governance, the open space is by necessity a zone of contestation and resolution, while complete privacy can be claimed within the wall. In this opposition between intimate space and shared space, the project allows for the entire spectrum of dwelling and cohabitation, granting inhabitants the freedom to enjoy both total seclusion while projecting a new form of collective life.  

Yale School of Architecture, Spring 2014, Critic Pier Vittorio Aureli

Project Leads: Brittany Utting, Daniel Jacobs