Co-Op Canyon / Standard Architecture

Standard Architecture‘s conceptual design, , has recently received an honorable mention for the Re:Vision Dallas competition.  The competition provided participants with the opportunity to create an innovative and sustainable prototype for an urban community. Standard’s radical approach focused on how the residents could potentially gain equity through participation in construction, agricultural, maintenance, education and conservation programs central to the sustenance of the community. 

More images and information after the break.

Co-Op Canyon creates a sustainable, zero carbon space fit for 1,000 users.  Inspired by the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians, the Co-Op features terraced urban conditions which overlook a lush urban canyon.  The dwelling terraces are lined with front yard gardens that host native plants varying in color and texture, while backyard gardens emphasize the ends of the terraces.   The garden allotments, in addition to communal farms, are dispersed throughout the terraces allowing residents to grow, exchange, and share canyon-grown produce.

Food acts the connecting thread that ties the community together.  The community farm is the focal point of the southern canyon, situated on the stepped terraces that link the levels of the canyon floor. Produce from the community farm is either consumed in the community kitchen or sold in the market spaces below.  The kitchen offers classes and food tastings focused on nutrition as well as a place to share family cooking techniques. The kitchen is part of a holistic approach to health that includes exercise and intergenerational social interaction encouraged by work in the canyon’s gardens.

The canyon walls are relatively thin which allows ample natural light and air circulation within the dwellings.  At the street level, the porous walls form the threshold between the community and the urban context, linking the terraced canyon floor to the streets of Dallas.  


Standard Architecture may sound familiar because we interviewed them a few months ago to get to know the upcoming firm.  For more information about the Re:Vision Dallas Competition and Standard Architecture’s proposal.


Standard LLP: architect Jeffrey Allsbrook, partner Silvia Kuhle, partner Project team: Alexis Caver, Kazu Shichishima, Brandon Bown, Alex Babich, Gregg Oelker

Coen Partners: landscape architect Stephanie Grotta, principal Erica Christianson, Bryan Kramer

Thornton Tomasetti: structure Bruce Gibbons, principal, Christopher Kahanek

IBE Consulting: MEP, sustainable design Peter Simmonds, senior associate, Patrick Wilkinson

Davis Langdon: cost estimate Ethan Burrows, associate principal, Jane Northey

Atelier 10: sustainable consultant Claire Johnson





Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Co-Op Canyon / Standard Architecture" 11 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I usually don’t like their work, but this one is different…
    This is what I call Architecture!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like that the concept develops from bottom up thinking, as it engages with community. I was at a talk at the RIBA recently on Bimimicry and I thik that the future will be about a more holistic cohesive architecture just like this. The sustainable agenda is really moving in the right direction. Thinking is joined up and doesn’t stop simply with growing of crops but looks at nutrition and education.

    I would like to see this project develop in more detail as I think it offers much potential.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i think it has yet to get beyond all the utopic atmosphere it releases..i do not believe it will work and function as described

    (“The kitchen offers classes and food tastings focused on nutrition as well as a place to share family cooking techniques. The kitchen is part of a holistic approach to health that includes exercise and intergenerational social interaction encouraged by work in the canyon’s gardens….Produce from the community farm is either consumed in the community kitchen or sold in the market spaces below.”)

    it would probably turn out as a very ermetic comunity/society, it will alienate people from the rest of the city/urban life, and btw, which people that live in the city and have a somewhat busy and active life still have the time to practice this kind of architecture and “intergenerational social interaction” thay preach. Well, if they would be in some kind of cult together maybe, they could even hold hands while they plant the seeds..and the women will all be named Rain and have dresses made of wheat.

    i think this (self)”sustainable” ideea is a bit misunderstood and surely over preached..this along with “green” and “ecological”.

    thank you

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I prefer the term, “green”. A project can be “sustainable”, if the people can get almost anything in the same place, food, water, energy.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Arthur you take a rather dim view to this proposal. How would you approach this project brief?

    This was for a “opportunity to create an innovative and sustainable prototype for an urban community”. So I think they have made a good attempt. Sure it is a bit shocking that you grow veg but haven’t cities had allotments for years so that people can grow there own food. There are plenty of opportunities to sell veg through these schemes.

    Why does this have to a ‘hippy’ commune? I am sure that the Architects do not attend to lock people inside and make them grow carrots 24/7. I am sure you would be allowed out to work.

    I think these conceots are the basis of a way forward. However there must be a change of attitude from the public. How can attitudes be changed which aren’t dictitorial. Well I think that a bottom up approach that allows community to participate in the design process will mean that issues, like those expressed by Arthur, can be accomodated.

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    ok..i always am for “opportunities to create innovative prototypes” and i also believe they are the way to obtain progress in our field.. and indeed the public should be educated towards a way of living(the question is if we have the moral ground to do that but that is another issue). You have to agree this project targets a certain and quite limited segment of the population(thats what i was trying to suggest by the somewhat streched comparison with “hippies”) and also one that would agree to make some interresting compromises in the way they live, work, provide their food and relate to other members of their “enclosure”. Of course i didnt imagine they would grow carrots 24/7 but its also hard to imagine a bussiness man or a career person taking the time after long hours to attend the veg garden. I guess it all comes down to what kind of people will you put in there. Im sure its possible technically and all that, but ultimately its a matter of people choosing to live there, their comfort and subsequent personal development.(because educating them towards something also means providing them with support and therapy after :)). I’m just not sure this kind of participative architecture mixed with small scale agriculture will function. we should not try to simplify the complex human needs(primal or social) or at least not pretend we can manipulate them or contain them by such means.

    a few words about the formal aspect(i see it’s quite popular to engage that quite relative subject too around here). like someone already said here, it looks more like the colloseum than a canyon. of course i can see the similarities in some areas(layers, vertical profile etc.), but..if you are going to get inspired from this kind of concept, do it all the way not just with a few elements..the primary symbolic atributes of the canyon are length and direction..maybe time. i cannot see any of these here. Also the canyon is a threshold, a place where different identities come together, a place that has not only the qualities of those two elements but also that draws power from they’re coexistance. identities are confirmed, the result is more impressive that either of them separately.

    this project did not have however another crucial element needed for this kind of “utopia” we are talking about: the fascination part. Did not get that “blade runner” kind of vibe from this. the study is elaborate, i respect the ideea, the work behind it, the innovative intent, just think it misses the edge to work and to be followed.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This is awesome! I tried to do this in a 4th year project once, but it never really worked out because of the height restrictions in the DC area (which is where our proposed site was). It just didn’t have the same effect…but this is just fantastic!

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