Saltillo Offsite Sustainable Housing Study
University of Texas . School of Architecture
Committee : Dr. Steven A. Moore + Prof. Elizabeth Danze
Master Design Study
The following is a feasibility study of "sustainable off-site housing" in the Saltillo District of East Austin, Texas. What is sustainable off-site housing? Sustainability includes, but is not simply limited to, buildings that incorporate ecologically sensitive products, or ecologically sensitive development with regard to short-term and long-term urban growth. The term "off-site" is interchangeable with "prefabrication," and refers to the method of constructing or manufacturing parts of an assembly in one location (off-site from its final destination), and whose final assembly occurs elsewhere. The goal of this investigation is to produce quantifiable evidence of the advantages of sustainable off-site building practices. The Saltillo feasibility study explores four main areas: (1) why it is imperative that architects engage in the design of housing/communities, (2) do off-site, or prefab, manufacturers provide a significant opportunity to engage the housing sector, (3) what sustainable strategies, techniques, and materials might be employed in the design of housing/communities using prefab construction, and (4) what is the impact of such strategies from an environmental/equitable/economical perspective.
Detailed Image Descriptions:
- Analysis of energy consumption and corresponding annual cost for baseline conventional home versus energy efficient home in the Austin, TX climate. Energy conservation measure in design and construction of new homes has a significant economic impact on family budgets.
- Develop site density (3 story along 4th street, 5 story along 5th street), while addressing the adjacent neighborhood scale. The denser 5th street corridor contains a retail overlay zone along street edge (retail for both residents and commercial patrons from businesses on northern edge of 5th street). An existing rail line (future transit line) bisects the site north/south and would integrate the future Lance Armstrong Bike Trail, becoming a green park link back to the city.
- Typical residential block provide a diversity of unit sizes to address various spatial needs and income levels. Each residential block creates green urban lawns on varying levels for residents within the denser fabric of the development.
- The standard module is based upon the standard construction practices of prefab manufacturers. However, there are differences such as: (1) roofing structure and insulation is replaced by structural insulated panels (SIPs); (2) SIPs integrate hydronic tubing for radiant heating/cooling in lieu of forced air; (3) air exchanges are pretreated by an individual unit desiccant dehumidification system; (4) exterior walls are insulated with expanded foam insulation, which provides an airtight seal to the building envelope; (5) windows are double-insulated, and have Low-E glazing to reduce thermal heat gain; (6) kitchens and bathrooms are fabricated as chunks, which integrate all required systems, piping, etc. thus expediting construction.
- The circulation cores provide connectivity from 5th street (north) to 4th street (south). In addition, the circulation cores each house rain water cisterns (tucked below the ground floor stair in this image), retail/service/office space on each floor except the topmost, and on-site combined heat and energy (in the form of absorption chillers tied to micro-power turbine generators). The "Cores" serve to connect the community, provide basic services, and be an educational tool that illustrates (through gauges on cisterns and informative signage on the mechanical room) the infrastructural requirements of their household and the larger community development.
- Typical elevation of residential units is composed of a series of 3 foot-wide rain screen modules. The overall effect of the varying colors is to break down the elevation's scale. The rainscreens could be made from recycled plastic impregnated with U.V. stabilized colors, stained recycled wood, glazed terra cotta tiles, or Kynar finished metal. Overall residential massing provides shading to a majority of units, while sun shading devices protect all other southern glazing.