The crisis in housing has reached tremendous proportions. It is estimated that 80-90% of families cannot afford to enter the single family house market. Multi-family housing, however, is barred in many communities, particularly in the suburbs. Water, sewage disposal, traffic are the reasons most commonly given, but the image of single family housing appears to be the underlying problem. Many people feel that multi-family housing will disrupt the forma and image of a suburban town, that the town will no longer be “the same”.
In response to this, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board sponsored a competition for new prototype deigns for a four family dwelling, the Quad. Their aim was to stimulate development of a type of housing that both has a scale and format acceptable to suburban towns and economies of land and construction costs that could make it more affordable than single family housing.
This award winning design begins with images of “shelter” and “house” and adds the development of an image of community. The images are developed in two building types. Two buildings allow greater flexibility in site plan, more unit types, and more richness in overall image. Together they can be composed on the site to create groupings and outdoor spaces that foster the sense of community. Both buildings are essentially four unit townhouses, but both develop architectural themes transcending this. One is the roof as a unifying element, pulling four units together into a single “house” image. Another is the use of chimneys to denote the presence and identity of four families within that single image. A third is the use of entries and associated porches and bays to establish the identity and present of the inhabitants for the visitor.