In place of a worn-out 1951 public housing development in Cambridge, Mass., Abacus Architects + Planners has created a new, medium-scale affordable housing community called Jefferson Park Apartments. Designed to maintain the same unit count, integrate with the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood, and provide an upgraded quality of life for the same demographic, the community is arranged around a central “spine.” A new street with parallel parking spaces on each side is flanked by four landscaped courtyards.
Many of the units are two-story townhomes located over one-story flats, with two larger elevator buildings located at each end of the site. The firm describes the structures as a mix of “solids and voids,” defined by blocks of bright colors and natural material contrasts.
Each smaller structure flat has a patio and a garden, while the townhomes feature walk-up entries and private terraces. In the elevator buildings, the first floor apartments offer screened terraces and garden entries, while upper-level apartments all have balconies.
When faced with community resistance to a new public housing development, the developer worked with community groups to assuage concerns and create a housing arrangement that would “instill pride” in the neighborhood.