Michael Bellefeuille

Michael Bellefeuille

Boston, MA, US

Submission board
Submission board

Roslindale Housing

Good Housing Makes Good Neighbors
Multi-unit, multi-type, multi-functional housing for Roslindale  

The Roslindale housing project seeks to foster an open and dynamic community through the adaptability of spaces and program, and flexibility between internal spaces and units.
The design is derived from the relationship between and within units; and of the building, and the surrounding neighborhood and landscape. The building is composed of two linear forms containing retail space at the street level, three levels of housing that begin at a courtyard one level above the street to meet the slope of the landscape behind the site, and capped with a roof garden and community spaces, all of which is wrapped gracefully with vertical wooden slats that partially conceal the private realm within.

Within this framework is a simple, yet extraordinarily flexible arrangement of units. There areessentially two unit types: a single-level unit with one bedroom, and a two-level unit with three to four bedrooms, whose levels are inverted so that the secondary bedroom levels are all located on the second level of housing within the building. Within each unit are movable partitions that either pivot or slide, allowing for a wide range of configurations, so that each unit is adaptable to many different lifestyles and activities.

Furthermore, units may be combined temporarily or indefinitely: each single-bedroom unit can be opened onto an adjacent multi-bedroom unit by way of the kitchen, and onto another adjacent multi-bedroom unit by way of sliding walls between the main rooms of the primary level. Additionally, each multi-bedroom unit can be opened onto an adjacent multi-bedroom unit by way of sliding walls between the main rooms of the secondary level.

This flexibility encourages a diverse and open community, within which less space is required foreach resident. The same unit that can be used by a young couple can easily accommodate an infant should the need arise; the elderly grandparent otherwise relegated to a nursing home can remain an active member of the community while still having the assistance of a friendly neighbor or adjacent relative; the children of one unit can safely play with the neighboring children in both their own homes at once; and the block party otherwise canceled due to inclement weather can easily be moved indoors to an ever-evolving collection of opened walls and reconfigured spaces. The ability of the units to be reconfigured internally, as well as opened onto each other in many different ways accommodates an exceptional number of activities and needs within a limited space, and fosters greater relationships between residents, transforming a container of apartments into a vibrant neighborhood.


The design of this project began nearly three years ago during a studio devoted to housing. Before the design  of any building could be considered, the studio focused on the creation of a master plan for an under-utilized  stretch of Washington Street approaching Roslindale Village from Boston. The north side of the street, on  which this project is located, slopes up considerably to a forested area along the commuter rail line, which has  the potential to connect via bike and walking paths to the nearby Arnold Arboretum. This series of current,  planned and potential connections led to the ideas of openness, connectivity, and flexibility within and  between units that was the basis of the origin design, but which was resolved differently and much less  successfully than the current design.   This re-design achieves greater flexibility and openness in a more realistic manner that, while still  theoretical, is actually quite practical given the increasingly transient and varied nature of how members of any  community live. The design is also practical given the need to conserve resources, reduce the size of our  dwellings, and plan for many potential future uses. The project represents a new paradigm in American multiunit  housing design that accommodates these considerations, but one that also represents a return to the  original idea of our communities as an integrated collection of divergent individuals.

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Status: Competition Entry
Location: Boston, MA, US