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Flexible Architecture:

Redefining Boston’s Triple Decker Housing Amber Galko


Part 1:

Part 2:

Research...............................1 Fall 2012 Thesis Prep 1 &2 Carol Burns, Terry Moor

Thesis....................................35 Spring 2013 Anne-Sophie Divenyi


“Versatile is the house; just like men, flexible yet solid.� Bruno Taut


Abstract

Part 1:

Research

Flexible dwellings are homes that allow for adaptation based upon changes in the user’s routine. Flexibility in urban dwellings can enhance connection to a place and community, and readily support changes in individual every day life and life cycle. Multi-family homes today are generally designed to be a compilation of identical units that cater to an average user. These types of dwellings aren’t able to respond to change and causes the user to feel alienated. Flexibility in modern-day urban dwellings can provide inhabitants with: a greater level of comfort, more cost-efficient units, and an enhanced sense of individualism leading to a higher standard of living.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to first and foremost thank my mother for her continual support throughout my education. I would also like to thank Terry Moor and Carol Burns for their advisements and guidance through my first semester of thesis prep courses. Ann Pitt and Rolf Backmann for providing incredible study abroad opportunities that helped shape me as a person and a designer. Finally, I would like to thank my amazing boyfriend Shaun and all of my friends who have provided me with a constant source of support and encouragement, making sure I stay on track.

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Conclusion

Methodology

Main Body

Introduction

Table of Contents

Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Table of contents. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Definitions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Relevance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Research Essay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Visuals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10, 12 Evaluation of Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Hypotheses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Project Frames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Design Probe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Design Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Evaluation Criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Timeline. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Discoveries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Next Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Annotations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

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Question

How can flexible dwelling help improve the urban living experience?

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Definitions Flexible:

Dwelling:

Flexible Dwelling:

The capability of adaptation in order to accommodate different conditions or circumstances

Private shelter which one withdraws to after their daily responsibilities are complete

A housing typology which allows for growth and adaptation based upon changes in the user’s life cycle and life style.

Relevance Flexibility is an essential design tool that allows housing to adapt to predictable and unpredictable changes in life, give the user a more solid sense of individualism, as well as enhance a user’s sense of place and community by allowing individuals to stay in place longer. Homes become individual places of refuge, but with today’s busy, mobile lifestyles, they need to reflect multitasking personalities. In addition to daily flexibility, housing should grow and shrink with changing needs based on life cycle. Housing needs to be able to change without costly renovation as family size changes, and as the user ages and their needs change. As Tatjana Schneider states it, “Housing designed without flexibility are already obsolete.” Space-saving has become an important challenge that designers face today. Multi-use spaces become desirable when space-saving is an issue, and using flexibility when designing these spaces adds to their functionality and appeal. When spaces such as dining rooms are only utilized on average 5% of the day, why should it not include other functions? The concept of a house that evolves with one’s life cycle is also important because it allows the user to gain a better sense of place in an individual and communal way because it no longer necessary to move locations when different living arrangements are required.

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Research Essay The concept of flexibility can be used to improve dwellings and offer a higher standard of living. Flexible housing refers to housing that changes and adapts to the user’s lifestyle, whether on a daily, seasonally, yearly, or lifetime basis. It allows homes to grow and adapt to suit the user’s needs, thus eliminating costly renovations or relocation, and allowing a higher degree of individuality. If flexible solutions are applied to urban dwellings, then homes in the city can respond to changes in daily lifestyle. The many resources available on the different aspects of flexible dwelling create an interesting and thought-provoking discourse. In his 1985 book The Concept of Dwelling, Christian Norberg-Schulz explores the many nuances of dwelling, and defines private dwelling as a place of retreat. Norberg-Schulz states that dwelling is a place where one can retreat and develop their personal identities, and also a place

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that functions as “the general background to human life.” 1 He goes on to explain that the form of the house is determined by the purposes within. Lam and Thomas explain in Convertible Houses that the lifestyles of city-dwellers have changed and developed through the years, and multitasking and functionality have become essential factors in everyday life. Lam and Thomas call for a re-assessment of the concept of dwelling in order to incorporate and accommodate today’s busy schedules into the home. In Flexible Housing by Schneider and Till, flexible dwelling is defined as housing that responds to the unpredictability of human life. They assert that this type of dwelling should act as “a shock absorber, there to soak up the dynamics of living.” 2 This concept fuses the ideas of Norberg-Schulz and Tam together, allowing our dwellings to accommodate our lifestyles, and act as a retreat.

Mankind began as a nomadic, hunter-gatherer species only residing in one place until the resources were depleted from that area.3 The earliest forms of dwelling were created to accommodate this lifestyle and were constructed of nearby material and assembled in very little time. As agriculture began and evolved, mankind’s shelters became more permanent and more communal. The earliest dome-shaped huts evolved into igloos, tents, long houses, yurts, then communities developed as the structures were arranged into clusters and compounds. This eventually developed into cottages 1

Norberg-Schulz, Christian. The Concept of Dwelling. New York: Electa/Rizzoli, 1985. 108

2

Schneider, Tatjana, and Jeremy Till. Flexible Housing. New York: Architectural Press, 2007. 6

3

Schoenauer, Norbert. 6000 Years of Housing. New York: Garland STPM Press, 1981.


Research Essay and farmhouses.4 Mathias SchwartzClauss states in the introduction of the book Living in Motion, “Every nomadic lifestyle has its settled moments, just as every settled lifestyle has nomadic aspects.” 5 Dwelling is an important and broad architectural concept. This paper will be discussing dwelling in a private sense. Dwelling not only refers to shelter, but also the idea of home. Christian Norberg-Schulz states that humans find their purpose in life in social interactions outside of the home, but “When our social task is accomplished… we withdraw to our home to recover our personal identity. Personal identity, thus, is the content of private dwelling.” 6 Expanding upon the idea of “withdrawal” that Norberg-Schulz mentions, he also states that dwelling functions as a retreat, saying it “…is not a place where the outside world is forgotten; rather it is a place where man gathers his memories of

the world and relates them to his daily life of eating, sleeping, conversation, and entertainment.” 7 Similarly, in his essay “Modern Architecture and the Flexible Dwelling,” Robert Kronenburg says “Home… is more and more about a set of personal activities, habits and relationships that establish continuum of habitation in the same location.” 8 The vernacular architectural typologies of huts, igloos, and tents were successful flexible pieces of architecture. The user had the ability of adding rooms, or arraigning the dwellings to best suit their needs. Private dwelling is the building typology that has responded quickest to the new and ever-changing needs of today’s lifestyles. Lam and Thomas argue that because human lifestyles are constantly evolving: the way designers thinks of dwelling needs to change as well.9 They state that multitasking has become a big part of modern everyday life. There

has been a drive to constantly better our surrounding environments, and flexible housing became a way of exploring how to give individuals more control over their environments. In 1920, Bruno Taut was the first to specifically reference flexible housing by saying: “Versatile is the house; just like men, flexible yet solid.” 10 Frank Lloyd Wright paved the way for flexible housing types with his use of open-plans and movable 4

Schoenauer, 6000 Years

5

Schwartz-Clauss, Mathias, and Alexander von Vegesack. Living in Motion: Design and Architecture for Flexible Dwelling. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2002. 17

6

Norberg-Schulz, Concept of Dwelling, 89

7

Norberg-Schulz, Concept of Dwelling, 89

8

Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 23

9

Lam, Amanda, and Amy Thomas. Convertible Houses. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2007. 9

10

Schneider, Flexible Houses, 17

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Research Essay partitions. His Usonian House expanded upon these ideas and became an affordable and modular home utilizing an open-plan.11 Flexibility played a key role in the modernist movement; it became both a social and moral imperative. Marcel Breuer called for buildings “… of which every part can be altered, which are flexible, and which can be combined in different fashions.” 12 Modernist flexibility took two main forms: rooms with unspecified uses and folding or movable elements the respond to multiple needs within a space. Le Corbusier, who believed in the house as a tool, studied the idea of flexibility in a house he built for his retired parents. In this small house he designed “A gridded folding and sliding screen to separate the guest area and an extendable dining room table to accommodate extra diners” as well as furniture that is built into the form of the building.13 Flexible housing responds to

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the unpredictability of dwelling.14 Flexibility refers to spaces that can physically change, both temporarily and permanently, and spaces that can be used in a multitude of ways. Schneider and Till assert that flexible housing exists for personal reasons, such as an extending or shrinking family; practical reasons, such as old age; and technological reasons, such as the updating of old services.15 Flexibility extends the lifetime of a building by allowing the units to grow and shrink with the users and abolishing the need for costly renovations. As Mies van de Rohe stated, “Buildings should last longer than their original intent.” 16 Kronenburg agrees with Schneider and Till’s reasoning for incorporating flexibility in dwelling, and contributes to it by including the idea of working from home. Working from home has become more common due to the ecological concerns of commuting and remote working

due to technology advancements. He supports Norberg-Schulz’s idea that one develops his or her personal identity in the home, stating that flexible housing “…is also about creating an identifiable picture of yourself as an individual.” 17 Kronenburg challenges the idea that the familiar possessions people bring with them to a space helps them to define their sense of self. He does this by saying that the way that one arranges their possessions relates to the sense of self that they connect with the objects.

11

Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 25

12

Schneider, Flexible Houses, 18

13

Une Petite Mason 1923-24 Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 25-28

14

Schneider, Flexible Houses, 5

15

Schneider, Flexible Houses, 5

16

Schneider, Flexible Houses, 19

17

Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 58


Research Essay This means that if one were able to physically move their space, then they would create an equal feeling of comfort and self because they would feel ownership of the space. Flexible housing can be accomplished in a countless number of ways. At a very basic level, flexibility can occur pre-occupancy or post-occupancy. Pre-occupancy flexibility can be desirable because it gives future users a voice in the layout of their space. Post occupancy enables users to occupy their home in multiple ways. Kronenburg provides a brief and whimsical overview of the many possibilities of post-occupancy flexible housing, saying the space may “…move from one place to another or be changed in its shape or structure – walls might fold; floors shift; staircases extend; lighting, colours and surface textures metamorphose. Parts of the house could leave the site and return, or the entire building could roll, float or fly to a differ-

ent location.”

In their book Convertible Houses, Lam and Thomas explore a variety of precedent studies of dwellings incorporating flexibility. Most of their collected projects focus on saving space in an urban setting. Their projects explore the use of curtains, transparent and frosted glass panels, furniture with wheels, color, innovative storage, transformable spaces, transformable furniture, and merging interior with exterior. They claim that flexibility can be achieved in many ways by stating “The personality of each room can be radically altered with simple acts.” A contemporary example of flexible dwelling can be found in Steven Holl’s work, primarily his Hinged Space Apartments in Japan. These apartments use hinged swinging walls to allow the occupant to re-order their house during the day and

seasonally as they see fit. This allows the apartments to stay indeterminate rather than fixed. Shigeru Ban also adapted the concept of flexibility by creating dwellings free of interior walls. This allows the space to be a continuous volume with movable rooms.

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Schneider, Flexible Houses, 5

19

Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 21

20

Lam, Convertible Houses, 10

21

Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 56

22

Schwartz-Clauss, Living in Motion, 65

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Visuals

Mind Maps These mind maps represent initial thoughts and reactions to key words that eventually became the main topic of investigation. They were used as a design tool to help organize the ideas, concepts, and key words inspired by our key words.

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Evaluation of Research

• Explored the concept of dwelling • Defined flexibility and analyzed it’s importance in modern-day dwellings • Learned how flexibility can benefit the user • Compiled list of how space can be flexible • Studied flexibility on both long and short term basis

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Visuals

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Conclusion

Homes in the city will be able to readily respond to changes in our daily lifestyle and offer a higher standard of individuality once flexible solutions are applied. “Change, as we appreciate from nature... is an essential process of renewal.” Today’s lifestyles are full of multitasking, and routine. Flexible dwellings will allow for both of these to occur without causing discomfort or a lack of self. An individual’s home designed with flexibility has the potential and capability to grow with them, providing a more dynamic, and accommodating atmosphere.

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Hypothesis

Flexibility in urban dwellings can enhance connection to a place and community, and readily support changes in individual every day life and life cycle.

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Project Frames Frame 1 [concept] :

Frame 3 [program] :

Frame 4 [site] :

This beginning frame depicts a diagram of the functions that I declared to be our base needs that essential to living (eating, bathing, sleeping, and entertaining), surrounded by how home is traditionally defined and what individuals strive for in their dream home.

For this frame I began to analyze what functions in a home can absolutely NOT be flexible (mainly bathroom and kitchen to an extent), and interior/exterior connections. This collage represents that areas of program are often defined by pieces of furniture, not walls. You can therefore have rooms within other rooms. The doorway represents that you will have at least one aspect of program that won’t move: the bathroom. The ‘living area’ in this collage is shown between two windows, representing that it could be located in an exterior space depending on the season.

Flexible housing is a concept that can be implemented anywhere: in rural communities, suburbs, or cities. I want to focus on a site that is in an urban area because I feel that in an apartment building in the city where every unit is identical, you can start to lose your sense of self. I want this exploration to act as a way of bringing individuality to dwellings as well as make them more economical, and able to grow with the user’s needs.

Frame 2 [program] : This image is about different methods of flexibility. Each letter represents a potential method of shortterm flexibility. I included sliding walls (L’s), doors (B), loosely defined spaces with few walls (I and E), circulation defined loosely by program (E and X). The background image represents that there is also potential for connecting to the outside seasonally.

Frame 5 [tectonics] : This frame is a diagram of my initial thoughts of how flexibility can be incorporated into a dwelling.

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Project Frame 1 [concept]

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Project Frame 2 [program]

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Project Frame 3 [program]

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Project Frame 4 [site]

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Project Frame 5 [tectonics]

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Design Probe During this design probe my goal was to explore two methods of long-term flexibility. These methods are called “slack space” and “dividing”. Slack space refers to empty space adjacent to a dwelling unit that can provide room for future growth. This method of flexibility can be combined with every-day adaptable elements (such as moving partitions) to create a truly unique dwelling experience by giving life to our static homes and allowing them to grow and change as we do. The site that I have chosen is located in East Boston along the waterfront. It has the adequate spacial requirements to implement a flexible housing complex that is able to expand over time based on need and function. By situating a structure of this nature here, it will allow for a transformation of the neighborhood to begin by filling in the voids of the urban fabric with additional flexible dwellings.

Module

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Unit

Connguration

Modiied Connguration


Design Probe

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Site Site Description

Flexible Potential

This site is located in East Boston along the waterfront. The site is currently a parking lot located in an area with dense residential neighborhoods to the north, a working shipyard to the east, and a community park and gardens to the west.

This site has the adequate spacial requirements to implement a flexible housing complex. By situating a structure of this nature here, it will allow for a transformation of the neighborhood to begin by filling in the voids of the urban fabric with additional flexible dwellings.

Relevance The Boston Redevelopment Agency created the Municipal Harbor Plan in 2008 to begin to analyze and develop the underutilized waterfront of East Boston. This site is located just outside of their study, making it a prime location to be studied and developed.

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Demographics • 60% of households are families • Median household size is 2.46 • 68% of households are more than one family


Site

Municipal Harbor Plan Open Space Concept

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Conclusion Program

Site

Flexibility has been incorporated in dwellings since the temporary shelters of the nomadic hunter-gathers of the past. A new combination of long-term and daily flexibility will provide users with the ability to connect with their dwelling in a very personal and individual way by gaining control of the design and functions of their space.

At its most basic levels, the concept of flexible housing can be implemented anywhere that there is a need for housing. It can be used to strengthen communities in many ways by allowing people to live in place longer. For the purpose of this thesis, a site will be chosen in an underdeveloped area of Boston.

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Design Method

My thesis began with the exploration of the concept of dwelling. What is dwelling, and what effects do our dwellings have on our daily lives? My initial mind-maps helped me focus and analyze different areas of dwelling to potentially be investigated. I first came across the concept of “flexible� housing while studying Steven Holl’s Hinged Space apartments in Fukuoka Japan. The Hinged Space included hinged walls that could be moved to alter the levels of lighting in the apartment, separate the private from the public during the day, as well as create extra bedrooms when necessary. This deceivingly simple idea caught hold of me. Researching further I found historic examples of flexible housing by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, LeCorbusier, and Mies van de Rohe. These examples inspired me to dive into researching modern precedents. From here, I plan to continue

searching for more sources, and furthering my knowledge by reading, and compiling my precedents and research graphically. Site will require further analysis, in the form of demographic research. Is there a need for housing in this area? How can the community benefit from flexible housing compared to traditional dwelling units? At this point the focus should switch to the user. I would like to define multiple invented users. This will allow my final design to demonstrate how it can cater to a variety of users. Creating a mind map will be an excellent first step toward defining users. The most challenging part of my research will be proving that this will improve the lives of the user. This will require me to do qualitative research, possibly in the form of surveys that analyze awareness, observations, and correlations between different groups.

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Design Objectives

Evaluation Criteria

The main goals of this thesis are to:

Site

• Create a kit of parts for flexible design including historic examples and innovative new ideas • Combine historical examples of flexible methods in unprecedented ways • Bring flexibility to the forefront of design as the modernists of the past were able to • Create a unit that will be able to cater to a wide variety of users • Create and understanding of how communities can benefit from flexible dwellings

How thoughtfully was the site researched and chosen? Does the design respond to the site and needs of the surrounding community? Concept Are the flexible methods clearly and accurately defined? Is the concept clearly evident in the final design? Design Does the structure allow for flexibility to occur in multiple ways? Does the unit cater to a wide range of users? Have the flexible aspects as well as the stationary aspects been clearly defined?

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Timeline

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Reflections I began pursuing this thesis topic in response to the interest and passion that I have in regards to residential design. My goal for this thesis is to be able to design flexible living units that provide the user a greater amount of comfort and better sense of individuality. This will allow the user a truly unique dwelling experience that to they can take great pride in. These units will combine to create flexible housing complexes and ultimately flexible communities

that allow for a very diverse population of people coming from every walk of life. In the research that I have conducted, I have learned far more about flexible housing than I had even hoped. I am also excited to share this knowledge of flexibility with my peers, and demonstrate that I’m alluding to far more than simply movable partitions and open floor plans.

Next Steps

• Gain contact with a professional in the field

• Further research the benefits of aging in place

• Analyze potential sites across US

• Define which methods of flexibility (see p.12) can be effectively combined

• Research how flexible design can affect communities

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• Define profiles of multiple users • Analyze a range of potential applications for flexible design (aside from housing)


Bibliography

Advanced Architecture Contest, Vicente Guallart, Willy Mßller, and Lucas Cappelli. Self-Sufficient Housing : the Competition. Barcelona: Actar, 2006. Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn: What Happens after They’re Built. New York, NY: Viking, 1994. Lam, Amanda, and Amy Thomas. Convertible Houses. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2007 Norberg-Schulz, Christian. The Concept of Dwelling. New York: Electa/Rizzoli, 1985 Salij, Tihamer. Total Housing. Edited by New York: Actar, 2010. Schoenauer, Norbert. 6000 Years of Housing. New York: Garland STPM Press, 1981. Schneider, Tatjana, and Jeremy Till. Flexible Housing. New York: Architectural Press, 2007 Schwartz-Clauss, Mathias, and Alexander von Vegesack. Living in Motion: Design and Architecture for Flexible Dwelling. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2002.

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Annotated Bibliography Norberg-Schulz, Christian. 1985. The Concept of Dwelling. New York: Electa/Rizzoli.

Lam, Amanda, and Amy Thomas. 2007. Convertible Houses. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, Publisher.

Christian Norberg-Schulz was born in Oslo, Norway and holds many titles such as architect, architectural historian/theorist, professor (at MIT), and dean (at the University of Oslo). He is also known for his book Genius Loci. Norberg-Schulz divides ‘dwelling’ into four subcategories, or modes: settlement, collective dwelling, public dwelling, and private dwelling. This book investigates all levels of dwelling, and compares and contrasts the modes in order to convey a broad understanding of the concept of dwelling. I found the section on private dwelling very relevant to my topic, and it gave me a solid understanding of dwelling to use as a base for the rest of my work.

This book is a compilation of projects that have addressed strategies for convertible living in NYC. It is written by two women authors both living in New York City with backgrounds and interests in design. The projects address many different solutions including moveable walls, multi-use rooms, putting furniture on wheels, and merging interior and exterior space. This book was written from the authors’ experiences and hardships with city living. This book was helpful to explore a broad range of solutions, but floor plans would have helped my spatial understanding of each design.

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Salij, Tihamer. Total Housing. Edited by New York: Actar, 2010. The book Total Housing is a selection of 61 residential projects from 22 countries. The goal of this book is to act as a design and reference manual for architects. The selections included in this manual all display traits of innovation, integration, and outstanding layouts. The book is divided into sections using keywords then sub-categories. The main keywords are connectivity, efficiency, and flexibility. Each project is described by three or more keywords. I navigated this book easily by looking for projects that were described as a combination of adaptability, compactness, openness, unit variety, and individualism.


Annotated Bibliography Schneider, Tatjana, and Jeremy Till. 2007. Flexible Housing. New York: Architectural Press. In the book Flexible Housing (2007), Tatjana Schneider and Jeremy Till argue that flexible housing is a means of working across the life of a building in order to make it more adaptable and economical to the user. In order to support their argument, Schneider and Till begins by providing definitions to all of the terms and ideas they use, then detail the history of flexible housing, and finally provide numerous case studies. The authors’ purpose in this book is to educate readers on the definition of flexible housing and to provide a wide variety of examples in order to allow them to make their own conclusions and decisions about the importance and validity of the subject. Schneider and TIll write in a formal tone in order to address colleagues in the field of architecture who are interested in flexible housing.

William Fawcett, “Investing in Flexibility: the Life cycle Options Synthesis.” Cambridge University. http:// cityform.mit.edu/files/Projections10_fawcett.pdf (Accessed October 10, 2012)

terested in learning about life cycle options and flexibility.

In William Fawcett’s article “Investing in Flexibility: the Life cycle Option Synthesis,” he asserts that it is necessary to demystify life cycle options in order to improve the long-term value of construction investment. Fawcett supports his assertions by first providing definitions of life cycle options, and outlining factors of uncertainty, then analyzing failed case studies and literature on the subject. The author’s purpose is to not simply collect and provide the reader with case studies on flexible housing, but to make sure these ideas are tested and proven in order to make sure that the field isn’t viewed as a dead-end. The author writes in a formal tone to address colleagues in the field of architecture who are in-

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Abstract

Part 2:

Thesis

Flexible dwellings are homes that allow for adaptation based upon changes in the user’s routine. Flexibility in urban dwellings can enhance connection to a place and community, in addition to readily supporting changes in individual every day life and life cycle. Multi-family homes today are generally designed to be a compilation of identical units that cater to an average user. This was particularly seen in Boston’s triple decker homes. The typology was developed in the late 1800s and their floor plans remain largely unchanged. This antiquated style of living found in triple deckers is unable to respond to change thus causing the user to feel alienated. Creating a new type of triple decker housing that caters to the modern day user will provide inhabitants with: a higher sense of comfort, a greater level of variety, and an enhanced sense of individualism leading to a higher standard of living.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Anne-Sophie Divenyi for her guidance and support through my thesis semester, pushing my methodology and never letting me stop questioning. I would also like to thank all of my fellow M.Arch classmates for their unwavering support and entertainment during all the late nights in studio. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

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Table of Contents

Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Table of contents. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Question . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Definitions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 East Boston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Triple Decker Housing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 East Boston Panoramas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Study Models. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Triple Decker - Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Triple Decker - Common Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Common Space Diagrams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Street Elevation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Site Plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Site Sections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Unit Plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

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Question

How can Boston’s unique typology of triple decker housing be transformed to incorporate flexibility in order to respond and adapt to the evolving needs of the user, as well as enhance and strengthen communal connections?

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Definitions

Flexibility:

Triple Decker:

The capability of adaptation in order to accommodate different conditions or circumstances.

A New England housing typology that originated in Boston characterized by apartment units stacked three high and connected with shared stairways in the front and back. Often with a rear deck, occasionally with a front deck.

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East Boston In the late 1800s East Boston prospered as a ship-building center. As it was developing, the neighborhood was planned to be set on a grid with ample open space. Being a busy port, East Boston served as the arrival point for many immigrants. Due to this, East Boston grew rapidly and became an culturally rich neighborhood. This also meant that East Boston became a stopping point, an entry to the US where families often only stayed a short while. Today, East Boston withholds it’s tradition in being an entry, as Logan Airport is currently located there.

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- cityofboston.gov


East Boston

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East Boston

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East Boston

“Market studies indicate that demand for homeownership and rental housing opportunities in East Boston is high. Fortunately, opportunities for infill housing development to respond to this demand can be found through out the community� -Boston Redevelopment Authority

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Triple Decker Housing Triple deckers are a housing typology that originated in Boston during the late 1800s to early 1900s. While triple deckers have spread to all over New England, they really define the character of the city of Boston and it’s suburbs. In the developing heart of Boston, two-story row houses were the predominant housing typology for workers. Row houses had many faults including inadequate lighting, ventilation, and fire spread easily and quickly. Boston’s suburbs were dominated by two story woodframe houses. As building technol-

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ogies advanced to include mechanized saw mills and manufactured nails. This resulted in the reduction of construction costs and the ability to manufacturer longer beams. In doing so, the balloon frame was developed. Carpenters created a hybrid of braced frame and balloon frame construction which allowed a third floor to be added to two family homes. Triple deckers were ideal for migrant workers or working to middle class individuals who couldn’t necessarily afford their own home. They could live in one unit and rent

the other two to help pay the mortgage. These new triple deckers developed in the outskirts of Boston, between the city and the suburbs, with varying stylist aspects brought in from both. The carpenters who came form the city built their triple deckers with flat roofs, and the carpenters from the suburbs built gable roofs.


Triple Decker Housing

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East Boston - Panoramas

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East Boston - Panoramas

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Study Models

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Study Models

This model represents the original triple decker. A structural wall runs down the middle of the space, and that is also where the main circulation occurs. Rooms branch off that are fixed and closed, but their uses are flexible, dining rooms living rooms, and bedrooms become interchangeable. Bay windows define the front and side facades, providing panoramic views and ample light. The kitchen area is located in the back.

As the standard of living changed in the late 1900s, floor plans became more open. Public functions migrated to the front of the structure. Cooking areas became open and integrated with the other public living areas. Circulation remains as a linear path through the center of the apartment.

In the new 21st century triple decker, the devising floors become delineated as common spaces extend vertically through the structure. The floor plan becomes completely open, the spaces are grouped by noise levels and privacy. Views penetrate through the common spaces to allow for ample lighting to the units.

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Triple Decker Housing - Frame

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Triple Decker Housing - Common Space On average, in current triple deckers, common space takes up around 10% of the building. This common space is solely used as circulation space and is not truly ‘public’. In incorporating flexibility into these units, the spaces become maximized and the area of the floor plans begins to shrink. New space is created which is given back to the inhabitants by becoming common space. This New type of triple decker has five distinct public areas. An open gathering area on the ground level that leads to the backyard, a children’s play area, a quiet sitting area on the street side, a rear deck, and a large roof garden with a barbecuing area (see diagram p. 53). The other space-saving technique used within this project is combining all non-flexible programmatic aspects into one central core. Located in this core is the cooking area, bathrooms, storage, and laundry.

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Common Space Diagram

Potential for flexibility within section

Existing Common Space

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Proposed Common Space Study


Common Space Use Diagram

Proposed Common Space Study

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Street Elevation

54


Street Elevation

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Site Plan

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Site Plan

The new proposed type of triple decker is based off the average dimensions of the existing typology. Thus, the new buildings can fit onto the same sized lots, and fill in the voids of the current urban fabric. The facades are a metal rain screen to make use of new building technologies while still blending into the surroundings by continuing the horizontal rhythm provided by existing buildings clad in vinyl siding.

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Site Sections

58


Site Sections

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Unit Plans

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Unit Plans

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Unit Plans

Unit 1

User: Elderly Couple

This one story unit is located on the first floor, with no internal stairs to allow for ease of access. This unit is designed as a one bedroom apartment with ample living and entertaining space. Sliding partitions create an ample variety of rooms. A guest bed folds out for visiting family members or caretakers. In the living area, flexible options include a formal dining room and a sun room. The sleeping area in the back is open to the rest of the apartment, but can be closed off as a separate area.

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Unit Plans

63


Unit Plans

Unit 2

User: Family with Children

This unit is a single level in the front and a split level in the back. The unit has ample living space, and extensive private areas in the back allowing for a multitude of different uses. Sliding and hinged partitions are used to separate spaces. The second floor extends to the exterior facade taking over a portion of the common space in order to provide a quality amount of private space. As more bedrooms are needed, all it takes is a slide of a wall. If the kids are having sleepovers, space can be opened up and enlarged. If a parent needs to work at home one day and needs office space, it’s available in minutes.

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Unit Plans

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Unit Plans

Unit 3

User: Young Professionals

The top floor unit of the building is designed for multiple young professionals, either a couple or two roommates. This apartment allows for a distinct separation of public and private, useful for holding gatherings or parties. Multiple bedroom configurations are available to accommodate different roommate conditions. Office spaces can also be created in multiple locations around the unit for individuals who work from home.

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Unit Plans

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Sections

Section C 1/4” = 1’ - 0”

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Sections

Section D 1/4” = 1’-0”

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Conclusion

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Conclusion

This thesis has been an incredible roller coaster of an experience of research, defining my methodologies, and designing. My overall goal with this thesis was to design the next step in the evolution of the triple decker, a type that could cater to the needs of the 21st century user. The three key points that I focused my design toward were ways to incorporate flexibility into every day life, designing for three key user groups, and creating common space that can be shared by all inhabitants. I truly believe that within this thesis and the time allotted, I have succeeded in my goals. While I wish I had more time to pursue the design of this thesis, I know that it is not the end, but merely the beginning of my professional life, and I will have the rest of my life to answer the inquiries that I have set up for myself.

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Flexible Architecture: Redefining Boston's Triple-Decker Housing  

This is a Master's Thesis published May 2013 at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. It analyzes and defines the need for flexib...

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