MODU’s design for a mixed-use office and retail center in Houston tempers the hot Texan climate
Naho Kubota

MODU’s design for a mixed-use office and retail center in Houston tempers the hot Texan climate

3 Jan 2024  •  ニュース  •  By Gerard McGuickin

Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary architecture and design practice MODU has completed Promenade, a 15,000-square-feet (1,394-square-meter) mixed-use office and retail center in Houston, Texas. The use of self-cooling facades, tall “fins” that offer shade, and overhanging trellises, are central to tempering the effect of the hot Texan climate and improving outdoor comfort. In addition, these features provide Promenade with a uniquely visual exterior.

photo_credit Naho Kubota
Naho Kubota
photo_credit MODU
MODU

At Promenade, tenants avail of both indoor and outdoor areas, with exteriors that are also healthy green spaces. “The planted gardens connect people to their surroundings and extend the indoor activities of working and shopping outdoors,” says MODU. Green spaces incorporate outdoor seating, inviting people to gather and socialize. Set at an angle to the street, these inviting spaces act to increase Promenade’s visibility and attract visitors; moreover, they work to improve the well-being of tenants and visitors alike. A core tenet of MODU’s architectural practice is to link well-being with the social and environmental fabric of cities. One example is the design of microclimates — such as Promenade’s planted green spaces — that create a healthy and accessible environment.

photo_credit MODU
MODU
photo_credit Naho Kubota
Naho Kubota

With Promenade’s open outdoor setting, architectural elements that create more temperate areas are a key part of a healthy and accessible environment. (Houston experienced “45 days of triple-digit temperatures in 2023”: 100 degrees Fahrenheit = 38 degrees Celsius.) “The self-cooling concrete walls are cast with patterns that, when passed over by wind, dissipate solar heat more quickly,” says MODU. “More patterning is used for walls in direct sunlight to increase self-cooling.” As a result, the surface temperature is decreased by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (6.7 degrees Celsius).

photo_credit Naho Kubota
Naho Kubota
photo_credit MODU
MODU

Tall aluminum “fins” around each of the entrances provide additional levels of shade; some of these fins are partly covered with a mesh material to encourage climbing plants and create additional shade. Promenade’s design also features the use of canopies and pergolas/trellises. Such low-tech and sustainable measures help to minimize the building’s overall energy requirements, reduce its carbon footprint, and improve comfort levels for users.

photo_credit Naho Kubota
Naho Kubota
photo_credit MODU
MODU
photo_credit Leonid Furmansky
Leonid Furmansky

“People stroll along gardens planted from different local ecologies: a Texas rock garden, a tall grass garden, a garden for pollinators, and a desert garden,” says MODU. The effect is a multisensory experience that enhances both architecture and well-being.

photo_credit Naho Kubota
Naho Kubota
photo_credit MODU
MODU

MODU worked with Houston-based Identity Architects and landscape architectural firm Kudela & Weinheimer to complete Promenade.