Changing the face of affordable housing

28 Oct 2011

New Hope Housing works to change the image of affordable housing

Brays Crossing is an affordable, single room occupancy (SRO) housing community developed by New Hope Housing, Inc., a non-profit organisation whose core purpose is to create dignified, sustainable and affordable apartment homes for adults living alone on extremely low incomes.

Located on a major Houston freeway, Brays Crossing is a 2007 renovation of a 1963 dilapidated apartment complex that had become a certified public nuisance property and community eyesore. A 500 ft long sound wall muffles the roar of traffic. Four 48 ft wide plasma‐cut steel murals interrupt the sound wall and shade the front porches. Carmen Lomas Garza, a nationally recognized Chicana artist, designed the murals celebrating the rich Hispanic traditions of the surrounding neighborhood.

The exterior colours represent the reoccurring bright colours of the Hispanic neighbourhood. The bold sound wall has blue and green panels with white murals framed in orange, and the green panels express the lawn of the courtyards behind the wall. Inside the courtyards, the two‐toned building walls are green below and blue above; ground and sky.

The blue gable walls provide a backdrop to accent the four white murals. Sunlight penetrates the south facing filigreed murals with a dance of light and shadow at the front porches. Orange panels rhythmically frame each of the murals and the courtyard's green panels while complementing the blue and green palette.

Stained glass clerestory windows, by Houston artist Kim Renteria, pick up the bright colour palette of the exterior and enliven the building's public entrance. Circular glass pieces recall the headlights of the passing cars; blue and white waves of glass refer to the nearby creek, Braes Bayou.

Within the public areas, the bright exterior colours are muted and accent an overall white and wood‐toned interior palette. The colour provides whimsy and delight to this affordable housing community and the freeway commuters.

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