For our housing project Triple-Decker Outtakes in Somerville, we collapse layers of local vernacular architectural elements and high architecture design to challenge the socially constructed distinction between good taste and bad taste and to create a social-mixing complex. The project spans four Somerville blocks. A housing project at this scale bears the responsibility of representing the residents at the urban level. To do so, we learned from Somerville and its archetypal architecture—triple-deckers.
The outer façade is facing the Somerville that is proposed in the 2040 SomerVision Plan. With its weight and presence, it acts as a datum that zeros the individual expression on the inner façade. The building is not interested in a unified exterior expression that hides the conflicts of contemporary life but the unresolved and practical Queen-Anne-front-Mary-Ann-back approach that reflects them. In an abstract way, the façade does reflect the eclectic and expressive lifestyles in Somerville. People with drastic different tastes can all find something that represents them in this façade. It also provides an appropriate backdrop for the lively activities in the park. Though abstract and monumental from afar, the façade breaks down in scale when the flat color stirps reveal their three-dimensionality as people approach the building. Buildings inevitably convey some certain meanings and affect people’s lives, so we speak proudly and consciously through architecture for and with the people.