Alley Flats are small structures of 850 square feet or less that home owners can build as a separate, secondary structure on their lot. They are both inexpensive to build – costing less than $90/sf - and inexpensive to maintain because of their environmentally friendly design and technology. Once constructed, homeowners have many choices: they can lease the alley flat; they can move into the ally flat and lease their main house; they can use it for a home-based business or studio; or family members who may be renting elsewhere can move in to the alley flat to reduce expenses. In these ways, alley flats can generate substantial income or savings for families who are struggling to afford to live in Austin. In addition, because of their small footprints and site-sensitive design, alley flats are easily woven into existing neighborhoods. They provide an outstanding opportunity to create affordability and increase density without requiring changes to existing zoning regulations or causing disruptive changes to the character of our neighborhoods.
The Alley Flat Initiative
The long-term objective of the Alley Flat Initiative is to create a flexible and self perpetuating delivery system for sustainable and affordable housing in Austin. The "delivery system" would include not only efficient housing designs constructed with sustainable technologies, but also innovative methods of financing and home ownership that benefit all neighborhoods in Austin.
The immediate goal of the project is to build two prototype alley flats - one for each of two families in East Austin - that will showcase both the innovative design and environmental sustainability features of the alley flat homes. These prototypes will demonstrate how sustainable housing can support growing communities by being affordable and adaptable.
The Alley Flat Initiative is a joint collaboration between the University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development, the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation, and the Austin Community Design and Development. The initiative was conceived through student research and design studios in the University of Texas, School of Architecture.
See student research on East Austin history, building sustainable, living small and sources of inspiration [More]
Alley Flat Initiative + Second Life[More]
Students from Community and Regional Planning at the SoA, with Dr Bjorn Sletto and PODER, initiated a citizen-driven process to investigate and document the environmental risk of industry to the people, specifically children, of East Austin. Learn more about East Austin Environmental Justice Project.