Community First! Village

Austin, Texas
Best Project

General Contractor Joe Bland Construction LP
Owner Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Lead Design L.M. Holder III
Civil Bury Inc. (Now Stantec)
MEP Jose I. Guerra Inc.

Community First! Village is a 27-acre, master-planned community based on a recreational-vehicle-style housing model. It is designed to lift the chronically homeless off the streets of Austin and provide them with affordable, sustainable housing. The plan took 12 years to implement, from concept to first occupancy. It includes 120 units, with space to add at least 100 more. Best Projects judges were impressed by the development’s “great contribution to the community.”

The project required an extraordinary site search as well as close communication with the community and local officials. Six other cities were considered before Austin.

The American Institute of Architects’ Austin Chapter collaborated with Mobile Loaves & Fishes in the association’s Tiny Victories competition to design sub-200-sq-ft micro-homes. Ten of the nearly 65 submissions from around the country were chosen, and Central Texas custom-home builders worked together to build several versions of each design.

Community First! Village, which was 100% privately funded, sits just outside of the Austin city limits, so it is not subject to zoning codes, but the team did have to comply with state regulations for density and water quality.

Work was delayed by an extraordinary amount of rainfall in May and early October 2015, but the team finished on time in late October. Many services on the project were provided for free, minimizing the overall cost. To reduce the operational cost of the units, all of the micro-homes developed on the site were oriented to maximize solar and wind energy.

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