Casitas Azucar: Construction to Begin in April!

Design Associate Luis Murillo works on Casitas Azucar in [bc]’s Brownsville office

Design Associate Luis Murillo works on Casitas Azucar in [bc]’s Brownsville office

We are excited to announce that in partnership with the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) we have designed a new multifamily development in the city of Santa Rosa, TX, which will begin construction next month. The project consists of 50 detached single-family dwellings and also includes a community room, office, laundry room, playground area and barbecue pavilions as site amenities.

This large development, called Casitas Azucar, will significantly increase the share of affordable rental housing in Santa Rosa -- a rural community with just under 3,000 residents.

The design concept was driven by Santa Rosa’s rural environment and its historic, industrial buildings. Each unit type in the development follows a simple scheme which gave our design team the opportunity to focus on the creation and articulation of green space -- a key ingredient to healthy communities.

We increased green space per family through strategic placement of each unit and the use of modular arbor structures which were articulated to enhance the garden and patio space for each habitant. By treating every unit type uniquely to its location in the site, we were able to highlight green space and create a cohesive design that carries throughout the patio spaces. These strategies result in green spaces full of trees which are used as an extension of the family’s home, representing a continuation of each dwelling’s interior living space.

When families and individuals can spend time at home comfortably both indoors and outdoors, their quality of life stands to improve. Ultimately, our goal for Casitas Azucar is to increase the opportunity for community by addressing public and private green spaces -- to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy them how they wish. Stay tuned for more updates from this exciting development!


El Sonido del Agua

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We are excited to share that on Saturday, January 26, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP ([bc]), La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE), the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, and Texas Housers, with the support of UTHealth School of Public Health, UTRGV School of Medicine, and UTRGV-Cameron County will host a conjunto music celebration as part of the El Sonido del Agua project.

The celebration event will mark the live debut of six original songs that have been written through El Sonido del Agua—a multiyear initiative funded by the ArtPlace America National Creative Placemaking Fund which aims to mobilize and equip residents of the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s colonias to tackle public health issues that arise from inadequate infrastructure. The lyrics of the songs composed tell the story of what colonia residents experience—the day-to-day challenges of living in these substandard subdivisions, such as flooding and a lack of street lighting. Project partners and participants hope to utilize these songs to draw attention to inequities of place and build momentum for colonia residents’ organizing campaigns to win change for their communities.

At the event, the four musicians commissioned through the project, who have worked alongside residents over the past several months to craft lyrics, will play the corridos for a live audience. Project partner organizations will speak about the goals of the project and the suite of events that will be taking place over the next few months as part of the effort.


El Sonido del Agua Workshops

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Alongside our partners La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE), the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, and four selected musicians (Frutoso Villareal, Jonathan Salinas, Refugio Ortiz, and Juan Manuel Alejo) we have recently wrapped up a series of three songwriting workshops in the Alberta Meadows and Owassa Acres colonias.

In July, a workshop was held at each colonia where musicians, residents, and partner organizations came together to write corrido verses following discussions about daily life and the impact of flooding in the colonias. The workshops began a walk around the neighborhood and a Colonia Audit of Public Spaces (CAPS), where the residents recorded the physical conditions and their thoughts on spaces in the community focusing on areas related to drainage, flooding and safety. Musicians participated in the audit as well to hear about challenges and success stories within the colonias. After walking the neighborhood, the musicians performed some of their music and spoke about the corrido process and the musical elements that make a compelling corrido. Residents discussed the music performed and then began to write their own stories as corrido verses.

The second round of workshops took place in early September. During these workshops, groups worked collaboratively to write corrido lyrics, and residents shared out their writings. Musicians led conversations to explore the format of the song to be produced. At the end of September, residents, musicians, and partners re-convened to weave the writings produced through the second workshop into cohesive songs that represent the struggles of each colonia.

We are looking forward to continuing work with our partners, residents, and musicians to record the songs produced through these workshops and plan a dance celebration in the new year. Stay tuned for updates!

El Sonido del Agua is a multi-year creative placemaking project that supports the expression of local voice through music, and is supported by ArtPlace America.

Welcome Valeria!

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We are excited to welcome Valeria Landeros!

Valeria Landeros is a Design Associate at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. Valeria collaborates on a range of architectural and community projects in the Rio Grande Valley.

Valeria studied at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a Bachelor of Architecture.

Learn more about Valeria here!