A variety of factors influence the architectural typologies of Houston: environmental, financial, municipal, and social. While Houston is known for its sprawling urban infrastructures and lack of zoning, the city has developed distinctive spatial expressions in response to the city’s regulatory environments. These everyday buildings—the elevated office mat, the two-story courtyard apartment, and the covered sport court—produce precise typological adaptations to Houston’s climatic and economic forms. Tectonic and formal strategies such as expressive roofs, courtyard interiors, and long-span structures create imaginative relationships to the ground, the street, the sun, and the weather. Learning from Houston’s architectural vocabularies, the 2022 RDA Design Research Grant will support the design of new typological variations for the city that adapt to Houston’s evolving urban and ecological conditions in the form of a public exhibition and book. HOUSTON-VARIATIONS imagines an alternative trajectory to the future development of architecture in Houston, offering new typologies and modest scales that restructure the relationships between climate, social resilience, and current forms of urbanization in the city.

HOUSTON-VARIATIONS is the recipient of the 2022 RDA Houston Design Research Grant. ​

Project Leads: Daniel Jacobs, Brittany Utting

Design Team: Jianing Cui, Jane Van Velden, Christopher Sanders

Photographer: Sean Fleming