2015 16 Housing units

Year 2015
Location Marfa, Texas, USA
Architects UHO
Type Open competition
Category Architecture

2015_Marfa_Plan R+1.jpg

Diagnosis and prediction

Marfa is an atypical location for a housing project. Indeed, it is home to extreme variations in temperature, but most noticeably it hosts one of the most progressive communities in the United States.

Could a prototype housing project rely on the particularities of this specific locality to enhance the concept of housing itself?
In our view, housing should:

  • allow for minimal disparities in the tenants’ living conditions
  • act as an integral part of the City.

In other words: each housing unit should be as equivalent to the others as
possible, and the housing project should contribute to the public space.

One simple solution is the grid scheme –or so-called Manhattan plan– where circulation defines housing units. Every unit is surrounded by four β€œstreets”.
However, it is not a very efficient one: distribution takes up a very large portion of the plan and shared space is merely a circulation area.


  • We split S-Space equally in the section. 50% of the surface is left for public use, 50% of the elevated floor for housing
  • We decide to make one sacrifice: the view towards the landscape. We admit it is not a mundane feature, but by doing so, we are able to pack the housing units tightly and to enhance the overall project. No views mean no potential differences in Use-Value
  • C-Space is distributed equally in 16 parts.
  • To avoid any kind of disturbance of the plan, any unbalancing of the parcels, access is displaced underneath the living area. We lift up the entire plan, liberating the ground floor for public use.
  • The ground floor is protected by a polycarbonate partition against sand storms
  • After setting the objectives and producing the first sketches, striking similarity appeared between the general design of our project and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie. We decided to fully assert the resemblance. He had solved every structural problem relating to lifting a great mass without saturating the ground floor with pillars, and we would reuse his strategy, simply using more modest materials and finishing. Our intent is to focus primarily on social enhancement. The formal proximity to a modernist building is simply a testimony to our retreat from optics.


2015_Marfa_Plan R0.jpg