Co-daptive Housing: A Prototype for Change
ReGEN Boston

Co-daptive demonstrates a new housing typology that will adapt to the needs of diverse urban dwellers and their evolving living situations. In the modern world of flux, static housing types have become a burden to owners and the economy as a whole. Co-daptive seeks to address this phenomenon at multiple scales, both spatially and temporally: first at the level of the unit, through flexible home-owner and tenant configurations; then at the level of the building, which can sectionally accommodate commercial/live-work space on any floor; and lastly through the site and its relationship to the water and rising tides.

Instead of minimizing space, a concept which precludes growing and maturing families, the residential units are designed to be flexible, allowing the home-owner to adjust the square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms over time. In plan, unit types 1 and 2 alternate along the corridor, while sectionally unit type 1 has a studio space above. This layout allows for unit type 1 to be used wholly or partially rented, akin to the suburban garage apartment. Additionally, unit type 2 can provide more bedrooms to unit type 1, or simply be sold out as independent studios. All of these configurations maintain accessible living areas, accommodating the needs of different generations and family structures.

Like the residential units, the commercial space and site planning can also adapt to change. Situated along the waterfront of Boston’s North End neighborhood, the Sargents Wharf site was chosen for its established connectivity to the rest of Boston, a vital element for successful affordable housing. However, the water also poses a challenge: the rising tide levels. To tie into the existing fabric along Commercial Street, the ground level of Co-daptive is currently programmed as commercial space, but as tides rise these tenants can relocate along the circulation core, creating a vertical zone of mixed-use activity, what one might call a “vertical street.” This elevated program will maintain amenities for residents and the North End district, and continue to offset the rental rates for the affordable housing units. Meanwhile, the ground level can remain relevant and stay connected through public educational and recreational water activities, a floating stage, a ferry terminal, and public and private boat connections.

Each of these scales, the unit, the building, and the site, work together to create a unique urban housing typology. The driving force that shapes them is the concept of adaptability. By planning for inevitable change we can ensure that the development will remain pertinent to the needs of the community for generations to come.