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Marfa Walls


As tourism increases in Marfa, the availability of housing for full-time residents has the potential to become even more limited as the attractiveness of vacation rentals and part-time residences remove inventory from the market.

The objectives of the Competition are to:

  • Encourage multi-family housing projects
  • Consider housing as an urgent and basic component of improving the urban environment in Marfa
  • Promote dialogue on how to improve the housing shortage
  • Encourage city planners and property owners to rethink existing code limitations and potentially rezone appropriate properties for multi-family housing

Marfa, Texas is a town of approximately 2000 residents and is located in the Chihuahuan Desert.


The solution should maintain a healthy and active community. The COMMUNITY SOLUTION adds a cyclical component to MARFA’s infrastructure in the form of an incentive-based program that offers key returns to multi-family developers in MARFA. By converting select residential lots to multi-family zoning, the City of MARFA will promote new incentives to multi-family developers of varying scales that are willing to invest in the future of MARFA housing. In return, the Developer will agree to give back to the City of MARFA by way of land donation (Public Amenity Spaces) or contribution to a Parkland fund in hopes that the existing community spaces and parks will continue to be revitalized and used by both locals and visitors. In addition to this contribution of land or fees, the developer will meet prescribed minimum standards for sustainable planting, solar panels and rainwater and/or condensate collection.

The City of MARFA will ease land, utility, and permitting cost to make it a more friendly environment for future development. While city planners of MARFA will maintain control of how growth evolves, the fee reductions will help encourage speculative builders to get more involved in MARFA’s future. MARFA currently has the space, social capacity, and awareness to benefit from a more structured, intentional community planning arrangement. Public Amenity Spaces will not only include parks and playgrounds but also other non-profit uses, such as classrooms, landscape zones, markets, workshops, and performance spaces. The City of MARFA will work with developers to determine Public Amenity uses that are most compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, further encouraging and embracing the neighborhood’s unique identity.


The WALL, the primary element, is built of rammed earth and equals concrete’s compressive strength. We understand that rammed earth builders are scarce in this region and propose this as an opportunity to develop a local skill-set that is marketable and beneficial to local individuals willing to learn. Developing community specific trade skills creates another layer of opportunity for individuals as well as places MARFA on the map for another artistic hand-crafted product.

The ROOF, a combination of steel truss and deck with a light-colored and reflective roofing membrane, creates shade for the ground plane, living unit and parking. The roof becomes a blanket over the living zone leaving flexibility for the units to undulate underneath to add variety and comfortable outdoor living conditions. The expansive roof plane also creates a generous square footage opportunity for solar panels which ultimately feeds back into the individual units. Deep overhangs shade windows with deliberate openings in the roof provide controlled opportunities for daylight to reach interior spaces. The incorporation of operable skylights above kitchens and baths allows for natural ventilation of the units during more moderate weather.


The LANDSCAPE, offering low-maintenance solutions at a macro-scale with tenant-specific options at the unit scale, creates not only a visually appealing environment but above all else gives back to the community. Trees planted throughout the lot require little water and offer shade for residents and roofs. Planter boxes are added to the front yards that residents can use for growing food or plants as well as potential screening from adjacent neighbors. As a means to be water-conscious, collected rainwater and HVAC condensate is piped underground to a central water tank. Stored water is available to the residents for public spaces as well for maintenance of private yards and gardens. Rising twelve feet above the ground surface, this tank also serves as a viewing platform for resident use for stargazing as well as a projection surface for movie nights.

Marfa Walls

Marfa Walls Site Diagram

Marfa Walls_Rendering_Aerial

Marfa Walls Rendering_Pavilion

Marfa Walls Rendering_Unit Yard

MF_Presentation_Rendering_Garage Workshop

Marfa Walls_Rendering_AerialMarfa Walls Rendering_PavilionMarfa Walls Site DiagramMarfa WallsMF_Presentation_Elevation_South