Architect : MHOA Tiny Victories

It wasn’t until Richard Devore first moved into Community First! that he recognized the stress he carried when he was homeless. No matter where he rested, “it was never your place,” he says. “You’re always somewhere you don’t belong.”

MHOA’s 200-square-foot design aimed to provide Richard with a sense of security. “We asked ourselves, should this be a sort of challenging piece of architecture? Or would it be more appropriate to address our users’ familiarity with what an iconic house looks like?” recalls founding principal Michael Hsu, FAIA. “We felt like that was appropriate as opposed to coming in and asking Richard to live in an architectural blob that we might find interesting.”

The design team opted for traditional forms but slightly tweaked: They topped an uncentered, hip roof with a flat-topped, glass cupola, which became the fulcrum of the project, filtering daylight into Richard’s home and functioning as a lantern at night. “It becomes an element that communicates with the rest of the village,” project designer Nkiru Mokwe Gelles says. “It’s a powerful way of conveying community and fellowship in the design itself.”

Project: MHOA Tiny Victories, Austin, Texas
Client: Richard Devore, Community First! Village
Architects: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, Austin. Michael Hsu, FAIA (principal), Micah Land (partner), Nkiru Mokwe Gelles (project designer), Shannon Ruhl (project designer)
Interior Designer: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture
Civil Engineer (Masterplan): L.M. Holder III FAIA
Construction Manager: Sol Frost
Site Superintendent: Alex Long
General Contractor: Risinger Build
Size: 200 square feet
Cost: $50,000


Originally published on Architect