Down & Up House
Houston, Texas

Papercity Design Award 

The Down & Up House focused on responsible deconstruction, green design and sustainable construction as the mission, starting with deconstruction of the existing 1950's ranch that occupied the site. Approximately 99% of the house and site concrete were diverted from the landfill, with usable building materials donated to the City of Houston and Habitat for Humanity. Any unusable portions were recycled. This deconstruction method yielded a $60,000 tax credit to the owner.

The desire to build below grade was pursued after considering the scale of neighboring original ranch homes, the two story maximum height restriction, and the desire for food gardening and fruit trees on the 6900 square foot city lot. The 1000 square foot basement allowed precious innercity land to be available for controlled daylight to flood the house, an open terrace above the carport, and adequate space for food gardening as requested by this food and wine loving owner. This particular site; near enough to a depressed interstate and its water removing sump system, allowed for basement construction to be a viable option.

A large majority of the building materials for this home were manufactured and sourced in America in order to support local and domestic manufacturing. The house is also LEED for Homes registered and considered a green building by both the USGBC and Energy Star guidelines. 



Design Strategies

- Deep roof overhangs protect exterior sheathing and reduce energy cost

- Long axis north / south to minimize the east / west exposure

- North windows are most abundant as best natural light source

- South facing windows are fully shaded in summer and allow sun in during winter months

- Not located in 100 year flood plain

- Roof terrace located over carport to be used as herb container garden

- Carport allows automobile exhaust to dissipate and not enter home through negative pressure

- 1000 square foot basement area provides naturally cooled space with mechanical room centrally located

- Screen porch allows outdoor living with protection from mosquitoes

- Edibles at south garden

- 1400 gallon water collection for irrigation

- Thin film photovoltaic power generation

- 100% LED lighting for reduced power consumption and cooling requirement in hot-humid climate

1502 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas 77006 // voice: 713-487-7770
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