Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

A Sherbet-Colored Experiment in Cohousing Outside of Boston

Photo: Naho Kubota; Illustration: Stephanie Davidson

When the architects of Bay State Cohousing first approached the challenge of designing a new residential project for Malden, a city in greater Boston, their first job was trying to fit a new 45,000-square-foot housing development into a neighborhood laden with older buildings.

On one side of the site sits a Richardson Romanesque-style office building, with deep red brick and arched windows; across the street, there’s a turn-of-the-century stone church. Nearby are lots of typical Boston single-family homes, with gable and mansard roofs. The newest addition to the neighborhood, designed by the studio French 2D, splits the difference between the 19th-century grandeur and welcoming porches of those historic styles nearby.

“Our first design was almost Safdie-like, with pixelated terraces,” says Jenny French, referring to Moshe Safdie’s Habitat ’67 in Montreal. “We also tried it as a Dutch village with a mansard roof. But we ended up with a friendlier version that’s like a rambling New England house of additions.”