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                           is a nonprofit project to create a living work of art, a sustainable village, and an environmental action as a community. In redeveloping an open inner-city property near public transportation, HIVE will provide beautiful, efficient, and affordable live/work and entertainment spaces made from  hundreds of repurposed steel shipping containers. Designed for pedestrians, created to promote local entrepreneurialism, original art, entertainment, shops, restaurants, and educational opportunities, HIVE will be a family-friendly arts destination for all in the Houston area to enjoy, as well as a tourist destination.

HIVE is the first project of its kind planned for Houston, intended to meet the needs of the growing creative urban population of the city. HIVE will bring together a multi-cultural community from various creative professional backgrounds, including artists and artisans, environmentalists, and business people. HIVE is a response to a real need in Houston for a safe urban experience, near public transportation, with great aesthetic value, low cost, and convenience.


We currently are investigating  properties in the area known as EaDo, in the Greater East End District just east of downtown Houston, along Buffalo Bayou and the hike and bike trails. We are particularly interested in an area near the Harrisburg light rail line.


We are working to raise funds to lay the groundwork for the success of our total project. There a number of properties ideal for HIVE and following a successful demonstration of a temporary shipping container community, via Exquisite Corps. We will begin further feasibility studies and initiate the development of a prototype building that will house our administrative offices, and construct a temporary outdoor amphitheater, and temporary market and parking structures. Efforts will be made to make bicycles and energy-efficient car sharing available during this beginning phase.


At the completion of Phase I, HIVE will comprise twelve buildings. Phase II will add another 12 buildings to the village, along with permanent landscaping, paving, and parking. During Phase III, the inner HIVE structure will be added, finalizing construction of the project.


Our project team includes experienced architectural, landscape, development, and technical experts, artists, fundraisers, marketers, and business and financial professionals who are experienced in large-scale original projects.

HIVE presents a unique opportunity to take part in creating a future sustainable urban model. Participation in HIVE will provide a desired association linking our supporters with a green, artistic, affordable, and original undertaking that will enhance the image of the city of Houston and bring hundreds of jobs to the area.



II. Beginnings


HIVE’s beginning is rooted in Creative Director Nestor Topchy’s desire to further develop the concepts of social sculpture initiated with TemplO/Zocalo, a multidisciplinary artist complex that began and grew in Houston in the 1990s. Along with fellow artists Rick Lowe, founder of Project Row Houses, sculptor Dean Ruck, and Jim Pirtle, founder of Notsuoh, Mr. Topchy co-created TemplO/Zocalo in 1989, and was its Creative Director until 2001. During its heyday, TemplO/Zocalo was an incubator for experimental artistic activity, and gave artists of all disciplines a forum for creating, exhibiting, and staging their experimental and edgy works. The complex housed artists’ studios and living spaces, a gallery, indoor and outdoor stages, and embodied the belief that art is a creative and spiritual way of doing anything.


Artists were nurtured and encouraged at TemplO/Zocalo, with many collaborators growing to achieve regional and national prominence, including Andrea Grover of Aurora Picture Show, The Art Guys, Mark Flood, Jason Nodler, Tamarie Cooper and Jim Parsons of Infernal Bridegroom/Catastrophic Theater and Kevin Cunningham of Three Legged Dog in New York,  lighting designer Christina Giannelli of the Houston Ballet, Richard Olson of Nexus New York, Mariana Lemesoff of Helios Arts/AvantGarden, painter Giles Lyon of New York, the late video pioneer Andy Mann, and conductor Jon Axelrod among others.

At this time, Mr. Topchy saw rows of shipping containers stacked ten high in the Houston Ship Channel. Struck by their Lego block practicality and austere beauty, he realized that the containers also were ideal building blocks for creating a utilitarian structure which could serve a community’s needs.


In 2004, as part of the Project Row House Festival (with the support of its then Interim Director Michael Peranteau and in collaboration with architect Cameron Armstrong and artist Jack Massing), Mr. Topchy installed a single donated container, the prototype for HIVE, simply known as Seed. Within Seed Mr. Topchy constructed mock-ups of shipping containers converted to habitable boxes re-purposed as a school, hospital, jail, shop, mall, and residential living facilities. Featured in the 2009 “No Zoning” exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, curated by Toby Kamps and Meredith Goldsmith, and with further assistance from consultant Mariana Lemesoff, architect Si Dang, and engineer Hisham El-Chaar, the project evolved from its second developmental stage as Organ. Now, finally as HIVE, the project has become an emergent reality.



III. Philosophy of HIVE


HIVE is a living, inhabitable work of art and architecture that will be created from hundreds of repurposed steel shipping containers. 

HIVE is a sustainable village providing everything needed for a quality of life experience: a beautiful, stable, financially attainable, walkable place to work and live that demands the least of personal and collective resources and promotes the most environmentally responsible practices.

HIVE will promote a meritocratic agenda and application process to a cross section of people from all walks of life.

HIVE will seek to establish the good life without the encumbrances and needlessly harsh climate of competitive consensus-minded consumerism geared to profit at all costs.

HIVE will assist in developing and testing new energy-efficient technologies and practices, and these efforts will be ongoing as new technologies emerge.

HIVE aims to establish a dynamic community within an infrastructure and balanced demographic which reflects the diverse identity of Houston.

HIVE will democratize the arts and increase the cultural capital of Houston.




IV. How HIVE will be Built – It Takes a Village to Raise a Village


HIVE is projected to be developed and constructed from 2020 through 2025.Three HIVE building phases will occur during the time period. Each will be a successful autonomous part of a subsequent progression ensuring a gradual and evolving process of succession. We remain open to input from members of the community, especially including educational and thought leaders, as we finalize our project. The means are as important as the finished or completed construction.

The final project will comprise 44 buildings and gardens surrounding the inner HIVE structure. Each building will have a square footprint and be made of 11 40-foot steel shipping containers raising three and four floors. The outer perimeter buildings will be four stories tall, and interior buildings will be three stories. Ground-floor commercial spaces will each be 2,500 square feet with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. Above them will be 320-square-foot studios, and 800-square-foot two-bedroom apartments.

The architecture of the inner HIVE studios will be made from 20-foot shipping containers arrayed in a hemispheric geometry along a structurally integral ramp that reaches a height of 72 feet. The 198-foot-long ramp is sloped to the maximum critical angle of two degrees, creating an element of universal design, a gently spiraled floor conveying both handicapped and able-bodied individuals to the 148 studio spaces.


Some of the units will serve as community property: rest rooms, showers, a security booth, workshop, laundry, and an office/museum, for interacting with visitors and prospective new members.

One may think of HIVE as an organism and a franchise. As we complete the Houston HIVE, it is our mission to expand to other areas. Using what we learn in the Houston process, other deployments or strains of HIVE could be realized in configurations suitable to different communities and locations, the common thread being creative service to humanity via pragmatic tailoring of containers to local needs, including sustainable environmental practices and other regional considerations.

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