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Pocket House

Project Location: Austin, Texas
Project Status: Design Development
Project Type: Residential
Project Size: 325 SF
Project Team: Caleb White, Emily Gruendel

Pocket House is a small house located in a suburb near Austin Texas. This region has experienced rapid population growth in recent years. As is typical in many American suburban communities, zoning regulations prevent multi-family housing developments. This, paired with rapid population growth, only serves to exacerbate the housing shortage that is felt across the United States. One work-around to increase density and provide more housing in these areas is the construction of ADUs (additional dwelling units) on an existing developed suburban lot. In a real estate culture that values square footage over quality and design, Pocket House is the complete inversion of this perspective. It is an ADU that prioritizes quality design and detailing to make living in a compact space feel comfortable and even luxurious. It is the epitome of quality over quantity.

Pocket House is a reimagination of an age-old residential model that existed across many vernacular traditions: the one-room house. It is a perfectly square (or cubic) space where all necessities are concealed behind the walls. The poche is a thickened mass that expands where needed to accommodate the infrastructure it contains. The interior volume of the space is shaped to funnel light from 3 skylights into the space; oriented to the morning, mid-day, and evening sun. These sculpted light wells also act as solar chimneys, using prevailing winds to vent the hot air from the top of the house while cool air is supplied from the foundation below. The outer skin is a faceted volume which reflects the hot Texas sun. The thickened poche is the difference between these two volumes - which creates a large air mass to help insulate the interior. “Poche’” is an architectural term that comes from the French language, it means “pocket” or “pouch” and describes the unseen space between walls. This project occupies and utilizes this space as an infrastructure to a refined and condensed singular space.

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