Dallas AIA Student Designs Show Inspiration of Future Architects of Distinction

The Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded student designs at their recent event that also showcased unbuilt projects. All three student winners are from the UT Austin School of Architecture.

The image above is from Krishnan Mistry and Alison Walvoord and titled “A Home is Not a House.” Instead of being a bland suburban tract development full of homes called Normandy, Mayfair, and Shenandoah, Mistry and Walvoord went back in time to centuries-old Italian villages (at least in my mind). Picture those old villages clinging to hilltops or craggy peaks with homes clustered together to form a community. That’s what this project reminds me of. While the geography surrounding Austin isn’t as romantic or jagged, this team took a smallish tract of sloping land and used it to recreate this ancient type of community.

A series of homes that seem to have been scattered like so many Monopoly houses reveals a study in community, privacy, and clever use of public gathering places. Homes are tipped this way and that to avoid looking into neighbors’ windows while allowing modest yard space – even those homes that aren’t stand-alone but connected to another.

Because of the contours of the land, homes are able to use basement spaces (in Texas!) for living coolly in the Texas heat by harnessing the natural cooling of underground dwellings. By varying the depth of the homes in relation to their contour, homes aren’t uniform heights, adding visual interest to the whole project.

Seen from this angle, you can really get the impression of that medieval village feel. The future architects have hit on the notion that modern semi-urban environments that currently contain block-after-block of single family homes don’t promote community. And the closer you get to the city, the more expensive they get.

When we think of infill projects like the one wending its way through zoning at Webb Chapel and Walnut Hill, is this a better footprint?  It offers density that’s needed in semi-urban environments, without the suburban rehash. Would a little village like this be more in keeping with the young, modern professional?  Urban areas must keep young talent from bleeding away to the suburbs when the call of the bassinet is stronger than the bar.

TUM – Garching Student Housing

The next winners are Francisco Resendiz Carrillo and Diego Zubizarreta Otero whose project was to provide a revitalized student and resident experience at a university in Munich, Germany. It should be no surprise that Munich, like most urban environments of late, needs affordable housing not only for students, but residents.

The brief on this project was to take a 40-acre site near the existing campus and design a masterplan capable of housing 5,000 students and 5,000 local residents. This team created an exemplary building that was affordable to construct and repeatable. We’ve read about the growing popularity of using sustainable wood for increasingly larger and taller buildings. The wood in this project would come from forests within 250 km (155 miles).

Wood has always been classed as a “warm” material, and its use here brings a natural element to a project the size of a town. The buildings are very light-filled, offering social interconnecting spaces that bring a community together. One challenge was the need for emergency response shelters. The designers describe such structures as dark and heavy. As you can see above, they’ve been incorporated into the communal space where they do double duty as an integral social space that becomes more important in an emergency.

Artist Residency, Santa Fe, NM

The term “in-fill housing” takes a new meaning with this winning entry from students Prarthan Shah, Nicole Vice. Set into a depression, Artist Residency is as unobtrusive as it is dramatic. If it was a chic hotel requiring no artistic ability, we’d all way to stay.

It’s obvious the team didn’t want to disturb the landscape with a manmade sore on the land. As a place to promote creativity, nature must be the guide. As such, the services of the building are pushed to the edges and partly submerged while the center mass features a series of spaces that use varying amounts of glass to drink in the views out over the Santa Fe National Forest.

The above model makes the design easier to comprehend. Because it does such a good job of camouflaging itself, renderings make it difficult to grasp. As I said, we’d all book a room here if we could.

While these are “just” student entries, I’d enjoy seeing each of them built.  You can check out more pictures here.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.