A collaboration with Matthew Hayes
Intentional communities struggle to define themselves in relation to the wider world. Some groups retreat from the messy contradictions of urban life and attempt to create rural utopias. At the other extreme, perhaps, are solidarity groups like labor unions or ideological collectives that can provide mutual support without a clear spatial manifestation. Cohousing treads a middle path between inclusion and exclusion — between the intentional production of collective space and the implicit separation from what lies outside.
This cohousing community in Somerville, MA aims to deconstruct the boundaries that separate conventional cohousing complexes from their environments. All existing buildings on the four-block site are maintained. To these are added free-standing common buildings and slender residential point towers. Generous collective spaces are maintained within the block and connected to each other by pedestrian passages. Through an unapologetic pursuit of urban density, heterogeneity, and juxtaposition, the complex becomes a microcosm of the city itself: an amplification of its diverse and sometimes ambiguous spatial and social character.