Chapter 1: Introduction
The concept of sustainable and affordable infill housing is an emerging strategy for combating pressures of suburban sprawl and urban gentrification, but it has only had limited success in U.S. cities. This research began by asking the question: What are the barriers and/or opportunities for developing affordable and sustainable infill housing and how could it be improved? Since there are many approaches that can be taken to improve sustainable development in urban environments, it became necessary to narrow the scope of research to a specific location and context. In the end, the theoretical and abstract discussions about sustainable development must be applicable to specific contexts in order to be of any value.
Overall, this thesis can be broadly understood in two parts: social and technological. The social aspects involve understanding the local historical, cultural, and political conditions of a particular location. In this case, the urban environment chosen was Austin, Texas. In the case of technology, there was focus placed on Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a project delivery tool. This research is based on the assumption that improving affordable and sustainable housing development is dependent on both social and technological means, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The overarching hypothesis is that BIM can become a catalyst for improving affordable and sustainable housing development.
The following sections provide an introduction to the major topics covered in this research including: sustainable design, affordable housing, BIM, and the relationships between them. Each section begins with a general overview of the topic and ends with specific data relative to Austin Texas and the surrounding areas. This paper is presented from an architectural design point-of-view, however, it is intended that the information will be accessible to anyone interested in improving affordable and sustainable housing development.