AIAH tour homes bring a view of the world outside

A home should provide shelter, but not close you off to the outside world. It should embrace what nature has to offer — bright light, a cooling breeze, stellar views. At least that's the thinking behind some of the houses on this year's American Institute of Architects-Houston home tour.

1825 Southmore

Intexure Architects is creating a community of ecoconscious neighbors, a development where accidental and planned gatherings occur.

"We're building a vision," architect Russell Hruska says.

Townhomes often have poor natural light because they are spaced so closely together. Hruska and his wife and partner, Rame Hruska, avoided this by building five freestanding townhomes on land that could have supported 10. They also staggered them, so even the back unit has a view of the street and natural light.

The sizes and floor plans are custom to each owner, from a single woman to a couple with a baby. The residents agreed early on to devote some of their land to communal pathways.

"We wanted it to feel more like a place you could meet your neighbor," Rame Hruska says.

The houses also share green traits and ecoconscious design. Many of the construction materials were sourced within 500 miles. The paints contain no VOC's (volatile organic compounds), and the plants are native. The driveways are made of concrete and gravel, which absorbs water that would otherwise enter the city's storm sewer system.

Intexure has already purchased a nearby apartment complex with plans to develop another community.

"It's really about spaces where people can interact," Rame Hruska says.

Russell Hruska adds, "We don't do gates."  The home will be featured on this year's American Institute of Architects-Houston home tour.