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Plugin House Initiative

The Plugin House demonstrates the possibilities of backyard homes and smaller living to provide housing affordable to all.

The Plugin House is an easily assembled house, created by James Shen, a current Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a People’s Architecture Office Founding Partner.

The Plugin House demonstrates the possibilities of smaller and sustainable living. It provides opportunities for infill of vacant areas and additions in backyards to address the housing crisis.                

Loeb Fellow Eric Williams, founder
 and creative director of The Silver Room in Chicago, partnered with The Plugin House exhibition. The partnership will bring various artists and community organizations together to create several weeks of performances and public engagements. The events will amplify and celebrate how a house, inserted into an unlikely site, can act as a place maker. A group of Artists For Humanity teen employees, together with their AFH mentor, will decorate the interior and exterior of the exhibition to demonstrate a potential small living layout and enliven the space with interactive public art.

Why We Did This

There is a movement among local and municipal governments nationwide to introduce policy to encourage the construction of small homes in infill areas or even backyards. Efforts meant to address the housing crisis faced by many cities.

The Plugin exhibition will encourage the discussion about small, affordable, easily assembled houses for backyards or infill parcels across Boston to add housing affordable to average residents.

The Plugin house expands on the successful Additional Dwelling Unit Pilot currently ongoing in the city of Boston that is helping homeowners create additional living spaces for their family or affordable rentals for their neighbors one unit at a time. This exhibition will be the beginning of that discussion with residents.

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By placing the Plugin House along the side of city hall, we will emphasize the unique ability of this type of system to fit into small, otherwise unusable spaces.  There are many small, infill parcels in Boston that are difficult to use for traditional housing development. These parcels are often labeled “unbuildable”. However, with new technology and construction systems it may be possible to build housing on this land, potentially opening up significant development potential.

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