ARC 561R / ARC 696 

The objective of this studio is to introduce you to a different way of thinking about architecture that takes our role as stewards of the planet Earth to heart. We will investigate the dynamic interaction of buildings with their contextual setting and ambient forces. It is in these interactions on which the design process focuses on the resultant form of the building. This way of working draws on and parallels the most up-to-date insights in a symbiotic design process. The studio is intended to essentially focus on building Design with Microclimates in an urban context and provides a multidisciplinary, focused course of research and study on the salient issues related to the confluence between the built and natural environments.

Climate change is widely recognized as a major risk to societies and natural ecosystems. To address this concern world leaders came together to adopt the 2015 United Nations Paris Climate Agreement. Under the agreement, both the U.S. and China agreed to cut their greenhouse emissions by 50% before 2030, with the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5˚C. In response to the Paris Climate Agreement, the City of Austin, Texas (COA) adopted a new Climate Equity Plan in 2021. The plan set a target for the city to become a net-zero CO2e/year emissions community by 2040. To achieve a change of this magnitude the plan calls for building 100,000 new Zero Net Energy (ZNE) homes by 2030. How we build housing and where we build represents the most scalable policy in Austin to achieve meaningful climate change mitigation. Additionally, Austin must reduce the operational energy use of its 467,291 existing residences and 50,784 existing commercial buildings by 25% before 2030. The accumulated amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions would achieve meaningful climate change mitigation. To facilitate this process the City of Austin has enacted a Vertical Mixed-Use 2 zoning ordinance that provides economic incentives through zoning and building code bonuses in exchange for more affordable housing, and zero net energy housing units. 

The studio project for this semester will design and develop a 42,000 ft2 VMU2 project combining the principles of zero net energy technologies, modular prefabrication construction, and neighborhood design compatibility to achieve design excellence. The building program includes 30 housing units where 6 of the units meet the City of Austin Housing Affordability classification. The mixed-use portion of the program is flexible and could range from 10,000 ft2 of a mixture of workspaces and neighborhood retail spaces to a small hotel or short-term rental units and a full-scale new bar/restaurant.

The studio will begin with a series of case study analyses of several notable multifamily mixed-use housing projects that feature sustainability, affordability, and neighborhood design compatibility. Design students in teams of two will investigate principles of housing affordability using middle-density developments to reduce raw land costs and modular prefabrication employing modular mass customization design, bulk purchasing, digital fabrication, 3D printing, and an accelerated construction process. The case studies will also document examples of Zero Net Energy technologies, zero annual water use, and carbon-neutral building materials. And the case studies will conclude with a qualitative analysis of neighborhood design compatibility principles. The case study analyses will include an investigation of design concepts, technologies integration, and the construction of physical models documenting each housing project.


Interior Design


Fall 2023