MISHPOCHA WOODS COMPOUND Austin TX
LowDO bridges design and construction; we often execute projects as design-build, a process in which we continue beyond architectural design services to also manage construction of a project. The Mishpocha Woods Eco-Compound is an example of what we refer to as “extreme design build,” when we empower the client to be the builder and to run construction as we share our guidance.
We believe that architecture can become more inclusive by focusing on participation, and that buildings are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Architecture is about building relationships, networks, and new opportunities. Design is an iterative process of prototyping with other people and across disciplinary boundaries to turn community participation into positive social action.
Through our design-build process, we can maximize design innovation even as the building process unfolds, ensuring that construction stays true to low impact ideals while exchanging knowledge with various experts and tradespeople involved in the construction ecosystem. In experimenting with “extreme design build,” we co-design buildings with clients such that they can run the construction process themselves. Now, some of those co-design clients have become general contractors and build for other people, expanding the reach of our profession.
Mishpocha Woods is one example of this “extreme design build” process. The owners, Robin Chotzinoff and Eric Dexheimer, had a vision for a development in which they and others could reside affordably in a communal setting. In 2013, they contacted us about their two empty flag lots in the Montopolis neighborhood, just across a ravine from Roy Guerrero Park. Over several phases, LowDO helped Robin maneuver the intricacies of what are now three lots, navigate the Wildland Urban Interface, and conceptually plan her compound. The resulting site design explores how the homes connect to the streets, ravine, and surrounding gardens & parkland, all of which are integral to the daily life of the owners.
Then, Robin built it!
With LowDO’s concept drawings and guidance during construction, she was able to general contract these homes herself. The compound now consists of a 2500-sf main house with four auxiliary houses each around 1100 sf, all nestled among garden areas. Through this process, Robin became a skilled general contractor. She also embraced her passions for sourcing and creating unique, site-specific materials such as custom-painted concrete floors, tile & sink bowls from Mexico, and live-edge sills from trees cut down on this property.
- Leonid Furmansky