The Alley Flat Initiative is an award-winning collaboration between the Austin Community Design & Development Center,  GNDC,  and the University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development.  The initiative was conceived  through student research and design studios at the University of Texas School of Architecture.  The Alley Flat Initiative  is a past recipient of the Envision Central Texas Community Stewardship Award for Redevelopment.  Shelter with Spiritprovided a grant to GNDC to incorporate spray foam insulation in this 600 square foot, one bedroom Alley Flat located in East Austin.

“Alley Flats”  are small, detached residential units, accessed from Austin’s extensive network of underutilized alleys, that can be built by homeowners on the back of their lots to generate additional income, house family members, or locate a small home-based business.

The designs are environmentally sustainable and ecologically sound.  Additionally,  with their small footprints and site-sensitive design, alley flats are easily woven into existing neighborhoods.  They provide an outstanding opportunity to create affordability and increase density without requiring changes to existing zoning regulations.    Alley Flats are designed to minimize the consumption  of resources, both in construction and in long-term use, thereby reducing energy costs and our impact on the earth.  They are built from sustainable materials and utilize energy-saving technologies.  Their efficient design yields very low operational costs – averaging 60% less per square foot than traditional construction.

The long-term objective of the Alley Flat Initiative is to create an adaptive and self-perpetuating delivery system for sustainable and affordable housing in Austin.  The “delivery system” would include not only efficient housing designs constructed with sustainable technologies, but also innovative methods of financing and home-ownership that benefit all neighborhoods in Austin.

For more information on this project, visit