architecture students design and build ADU with a nod to Texas’ architectural past | News

Architecture students at Rice University unveiled their newly completed Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Houston, Texas. Designed by Rice alumni Madeleine Pelzel and Kati Gullick while in college, the 640-square-foot ADU was ultimately built in real life over a three-year period.

The solar-powered structure is divided by an exterior breezeway reminiscent of traditional Texas Dogtrot dwellings, with a living room and kitchen on one side and a bedroom and bathroom on the other. The Dogtrot shape dates back to the days before air conditioning, designed to promote natural ventilation and shading. Separating the living and sleeping elements of the house also allows for more precise use of energy, rather than heating or cooling the entire unit simultaneously.

Image via Rice University

To create the project’s unique roof structure, the students used a computer-controlled factory to print sheets of plywood, connecting the roof and walls at precise angles. The gentle slope of the roof also gives the solar panels in the house maximum exposure to the sun.

Kati Gullick, left, and Madeleine Pelzel, Rice University alumni and ADU assistant designers, stand with the intricate framework of the now-completed structure. Image via build/rice architecture

The design project was brought to life through the school’s Construct program, which allows Rice students to design and build projects in collaboration with local community groups. A total of 63 students worked on the project for five semesters and two summers, including design, drafting, permits and construction.

“It is both a design-build program and a research arm of Rice Architecture, integrating cutting-edge research in digital fabrication with the delivery of prototype social purpose buildings to our communities in Houston – in this case housing, which is so deeply needed in our city,” said Igor Marjanović, the dean of Rice Architecture.

Image via Brandon Martin/Rice University

After the program’s completion, the team will now begin building an additional ADU designed by fellow Rice students Siobhan Finlay and Adam Berman. Going forward, the team will also return to the newly completed schematic to review its real-world performance.

The ADU by Rice students and alumni is one of many ADU projects to be featured on Archinect in recent months. In February, we covered the unveiling of what has been dubbed the first 3D-printed recycled plastic home community, which sees 14 pre-engineered ADUs built in Ridgecrest, California.

Meanwhile, in March 2021, we speculated about the possible futures of the ADU typology in California, following a decision by Los Angeles officials to pre-approve more than a dozen ADU designs through its standard ADU plan.

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