Advanced Design Studio: Aureli
Immigrants - both documented and undocumented - operate from a cultural, economic or legal periphery from which they cannot take access to urban and natural resources for granted. As it stands, documented immigrants lucky enough to be offered housing are usually placed in unsuitable converted apartment buildings that hide them from the city. Meanwhile, undocumented workers are an unrecognized but hugely significant part of our labor force. Our project, then, is to design a new housing typology that, through land access and opportunities for self-sufficiency, addresses issues of integration and visibility. We seek to make the immigrant community and their productive labor visible within the city, and to create a third condition between exception and assimilation (the usual choices offered to new arrivals), one in which the migrant is granted both a right to be a stranger and the right to place and home.
The scheme consists of a sequence of bands, comprising residential bars (formed from a repeated module of 30 private cells sharing generous communal kitchens and two courtyards for outdoor living and working), labor bars (equipped for agricultural production and storage), kitchen gardens, farmland, and un-programmed open spaces that allow for the activities of the informal economy. All these spaces are connected by a central spine, planted with live oaks, creating a space of non-vehicular circulation shaded from the Texas sun. The spine is lined with market stalls where the produce of the land and the products of the informal economy can be sold to the city. In this way our project opens up access to the city, subverting the prevalent spatial structure of Houston, the isolated subdivision, and making visible the labor of an otherwise invisible population.