2023 AIA Houston Design Award

Contractor: Mainland Construction
Structural Engineer: Fractal
Photography: César Béjar Studio

Grennoch Residence

Located within the 100-year flood-plane, the design offers a new prototype for residential construction in the flood prone areas adjacent to Houston’s bayous. Despite the damage caused to their previous house by flooding during Hurricane Harvey, the clients maintained a desire to call this neighborhood their home. Instead of relocating, they requested a resilient house designed in response to potential future storms. 

The design asks how the act of raising the house above the flood-plane can be opportunistic in addition to resilient. Rather than following the minimum 5’ lift mandated by FEMA, the first floor is elevated a full story above grade. This additional height enables the ground floor to contain occupiable outdoor spaces that open to the landscape.

The ground level accommodates spaces for outdoor living, cooking, and covered parking,  in addition to typical utility spaces. The floors above shade the ground level, enabling the family to spend more time living comfortably outdoors in Houston’s warmer months. The walls that define these ground level spaces are constructed of CMU and wrapped in stucco and wood cladding to mitigate potential damage from future floods.  

The volumes of the upper floors rest on the CMU walls of the ground level, cantilevering slightly to provide a sense of depth. These volumes contain spaces for living, cooking, and sleeping that open to covered patios and terraces. A fiber cement rain screen wraps the exterior while wood cladding offers warmth at inset patios.

The flat roof reduces the potential for uplift during hurricane force winds, and a photovoltaic array above provides the house with a clean source of energy even in the event of a blackout. The rooftop collects rainwater stored in cisterns beneath the living room. That rainwater helps sustain a garden composed of native plants and fruit trees that surrounds the home.