Chapter 43: Un-steady states for Houston
Master of Architecture
If the Montrose district's most salient character is cultural diversity, then the restrictions set forth by the City of Houston Planning Department's 'Chapter 42' have proven insufficient, in fact counterproductive to achieving the first publicly stated goal of those amendments: maintainence of neighborhood character.1 Ironically, what allowed the recent climax in diversity to accidentally emerge was the deterioration and subsequent inconsistent levels of maintainence/restoration of what began in the 1920's as a pristine monoculture of middle class bungalows. But as the low-density, single family home has become an inadequate response to Montrose's recent increase in market desireability, Chapter 42 and its resultant "townhouse" model threaten the district with yet a new promise of economic/cultural singularity. However, while embracing Houston's strategy of dwelling-type-as-market-product, it appears possible to write in to the code the previously-accidental ingredient for neigborhoods like Montrose: community emergence through propagation of difference. Thus, Houston's near-town neigborhoods could incrementally densify through means sensitive to local conditions, and simultaneously subvert the ever-present gentrification-oriented threat of monotony. 1Marlene Gaffrick of City of Houston Planning Dept. Goals of Chapter 42 as stated in telephone interview.
Architecture; Urban planning; Regional planning