School: Rice School of Architecture
Date Spring 2005
Professor: Christopher Hight
Program: Park/Public Space Design
Partners:Eric Hughes, Maria Gabriela Flores, Matt Geiger
Houston proposed a new central park space located downtown, next to the convention center and basketball arena. As Mayor Bill White put it, “Great cities preserve land for public plazas, parks, and gathering places for the future. We now have an opportunity - probably our last opportunity as a city - to create a place like that for us in Houston’s central core.”
Comfort Zones - reimagines a public park for Houston, attempting to prevent the park from being merely another windswept lacuna in the landscape, devoid of events or people because the desire to make public space no longer coincides with the consuming subject’s wants or roles.
Initial research involved proto-testing of climactic and environmental conditions on the site using heat and fluid flow analysis software. Configuration and form of elements within the park were designed to passively engage the prevailing winds to cool the park.
The park was also designed to grow over time, saving money on initial construction. By using the prevailing winds to channel plant seeds in specific directions, the park could dynamically grow itself into a wild urban landscape, which would challenge the conventional notions of park design today.
Using natural and guided wind to disperse the plants also allowed for the most optimal plant dispersal pattern for reducing irrigation on the site. A park will ideally require the least amount of resources and energy while providing the greatest amount of benefit to the public.