Merge Architects

Merge Architects

Boston, MA


E+ Housing Competition

A finalist in the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s 2011 E+ Competition for energy positive housing, this Nested Townhouse prototype aims to become a strong catalyst for energy-positive living in the revival and restoration of Roxbury. The form of the homes is the result of an integrated approach to maximizing solar gain, minimizing heat loss in the envelope, and providing a comfortable, daylit and passively ventilated interior. 

The Nested Townhouse prototype we are proposing is a new energy positive housing model that is designed as a nested pair of two 3-bedroom townhouses that can operate as a pair, a multi-series or even a single family townhouse - depending on the need of each distinct site. The nesting strategy allowed side-by-side units to feel differentiated and private while also providing an easily replicable model for future iterations. 

The interlocking units have four outdoor spaces each, allowing for more access to greenery and fresh air. The roof is designed to support a small-batch urban farm for each unit, giving the owner agency over a piece of earth and potentially initiating engagement between the project and local farmers’ markets. The produce grown in these urban farm plots can address both nutritional and economic concerns in communities that host these prototypes. 

For the competition site at 156 Highland Street, the prototype worked with a challenging sloping site and southern orientation by strategically orienting the longer side of the double pair of units toward Highland Street. This allows the sloped roof to face south, accommodating a PV array. The long façade on the front creates a strong street edge, while creating a series of staggered side setbacks for unit entries and garden spaces along the sides of the building. With a HERS rating of -17, the project offered one of the best energy performance ratings in the competition.

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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Roxbury, MA, US
Firm Role: Architect / Designer
Additional Credits: Energy Consultant: MaGrann Associates
Environmental Consultant: In Posse