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middle    house    on   the   prairie

Type Affordable Housing (Come Home: Missing Middle Infill Housing Competition)  
Location Chicago IL
Collaborators Studio-NH, Hinterlands Urbanism and Landscape
Date 2023

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“Middle House on the Prairie” merges housing needs, ecological site design, and construction savings through modular prefabrication and recycled materials.


This contemporary take on the two-flat interlinks two unique units within the building massing, allowing both units to have accessible street-facing entrances and to take advantage of the full width of the building footprint. The split-level arrangement offers generous living spaces, flexible offices for working from home, private internal stairs, and enough bedrooms for evolving family configurations. Unit A (primary) offers an aging-in-place option on the ground floor, and Unit B (secondary) can act as a rental apartment, an AirBnb, or an independent unit for a larger multi-generational family.


The residential landscape is reformulated through an ecological lens, establishing habitats for native flora and fauna to improve both the human experience and the ecological richness of the land. The front parkway, front yard, and back patio host native prairie and woodland planting. Plants are selected for their bloom time, color, and attraction to pollinating insects and birds. Movable planters in the patio and garage roof deck are dedicated for home occupants to cultivate household vegetables, herbs, and edible native wild plants. The roof holds an array of low-growing, drought-tolerant plants that thrive in full sun.


The house and landscape are both built of fixed-dimension modules that can be fabricated off-site to reduce construction time and increase quality control. House modules include stairs, vestibules, bathrooms, closets, laundry rooms, cabinetry, interior walls, and floors. Landscape modules include precast foundation walls, precast pavers, outdoor planters, green roof trays, and solar panels. With additional reclaimed building materials and no basement, the design reduces excavation and disturbance of the existing site ecologies.


“Middle House on the Prairie” offers a socially-sensitive, ecologically-driven housing typology that contributes to a more healthy, more equitable Chicago.

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Front yard prairie planting detail

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Back patio view


Kitchen and living rooms



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Green roof detail

Building volumes

Unit B

4 bed + 3 bath

1 office 

Unit A

4 bed + 3 bath

2 offices 

Separate front


20' width


Floor plans

Chicago      design      office

Architecture for Social Progress.

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