Claire Summers, MUP 2018

Summer 2017

Organization: Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, Boston, MA

Sponsor: Joint Center for Housing Studies Community Service Fellowship

” As an office with the name “innovation” in its title, the Housing Innovation Lab receives a lot of inquiries from those interested in housing who have creative ideas that they’re looking to share.

Real estate professionals, designers, city employees from other agencies, and residents come to the Lab with ideas such as a shared ownership model for home ownership, temporary modular housing, and tiny house villages for veterans.



One concept shared with the Lab is a method of micro unit construction within a typical Boston triple decker. The designer, Vivian Girard, is a contractor who has built a prototype in his basement. He invited the lab to tour the unit, located in Field’s Corner in Dorchester.



The unit takes up only 200 SF of space, meaning that 9 of the units could fit within a triple decker. There would be common bike parking and laundry facilities. Each unit would have built-in storage lining the walls, designed by Vivian, as well as a kitchenette that could be hidden away by doors when not in use.


Although sparse without furniture in it, the unit felt surprisingly livable given its location in the basement and its size. A full size bathroom and lots of windows help. The Lab has been particularly interested in this design because it’s currently looking to develop a compact living policy that not only permits micro-units, but encourages them under the right conditions.”