Marissa Reilly

MCP
Department of Urban Studies and Planning

An Exploration of Incremental Architecture as an Affordable Housing Development Typology

Incremental approaches to housing construction have long been a typology used around the world. In the context of my work, I define incremental housing as a construction methodology that provides dwellers with the essential elements of a house, allowing the resident to rearrange the fundamental parts to fit their needs, desires, and lifestyles. Through my research, I found that this approach is often a response to the scarcity of resources, be it material, monetary, labor or otherwise. In this thesis, I argue that given the current affordable housing crisis in the US, government officials and developer should explore the use of incremental architecture as a housing development typology.

This research uses a case study methodology to examine incremental housing developments in Berlin, Germany; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Hamilton, Canada as precedents for affordable and alternative approaches to residential development. Based on best practices culled from the case studies, I propose an incremental, affordable housing development in Somerville, Massachusetts including architectural diagrams, financial model, and a flexible unit scheme that facilitates the gradual expansion of a given unit. The financial analysis further suggests that incremental housing is a viable and worthwhile typology that developers and cities alike should consider as a new approach to affordable housing development.

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