It starts with the land.

The land planning for Concord Riverwalk was completed by Ross Chapin of Ross Chapin Architects.  Ross is the innovative thinker behind many of the successful cottage communities in the Pacific Northwest.  He designs neighborhoods to provide a well-defined personal space and foster a strong sense of community. Here are the key elements Ross employs to accomplish these objectives:

Layering from Public to Private
It is essential to clearly define personal boundaries.  A resident arriving home or a guest coming to visit enters through “implied” gates—near the mailbox kiosk or the parking pockets—into the semi-public commons.  This shared garden is edged with a perennial border and a low split-cedar fence.  A swinging gate opens to the private yard, and a walk leads to steps, the front porch and front door.  The porch railing is at a height just right for ‘perching’ and is adorned with flower boxes to further define (and express) a personal boundary.  Within the homes, the layering continues with active spaces in front and private spaces in back and above.

Nested Houses
To ensure privacy between homes, the houses “nest” together: the “open” side of one house faces the “closed” side of the next.  You could say the houses are spooning!  The open side has large windows facing its side yard (which extends to the face of neighboring house), while the closed side has high windows and skylights.  The result is that neighbors do not peer into one another’s world.

Eyes on the Commons
The first line of defense for personal security is a strong network of neighbors who know and care for one another.  When the active spaces of the houses look onto the shared common areas, a stranger is noticed.  As well, nearby neighbors can see if daily patterns are askew next door or be called upon in an emergency.

Corralling the Car
Cars dominate our lives to a great degree, so it’s critical they are kept in check.  We intentionally place parking away from the homes and screened from the street and courtyard.

The Commons
With all paths leading through and all homes facing the commons, this is the locus of community.  A garden is on one end, a calm stretch of lawn is on the other, while a child’s swing may hang from the heirloom tree at the center.  To the side may be a workshop: the place to cane a chair, start spring seedlings, and gather for parties.  On the roof, a terrace with a terrific overview.  A tool shed can provide a spot for shared garden tools.

Mailbox Cluster
Rather than picking up mail from your car, boxes are clustered in a kiosk and the pedestrian entrance, increasing “chance” meetings among neighbors.

Cottage Scale
These are 1 1/2-story homes, not 2-story houses.  The difference is not just about style, but impact on the surrounding neighborhood. 

Each home, though similar, is unique.  This fosters a personal bond of caring and identity with each householder and their home.  We carefully chose exterior colors for each home in relation to one another, to clearly differentiate one home from another. Each household creates their own garden landscape and flower box garden.  Some may be like overgrown English Cottage Gardens, while others may be simple and Zen-like.  But they all seem to work together.

Porch Rooms
So many porches these days are “faux porches”; they may look like a porch, but have absolutely no function except to provide curb appeal.  A porch should be large enough to be a room and placed just off of the active area of the house.  It should also be next to the commons, where householders can choose to informally engage with neighbors.  The passageway to the front door should pass along the side and not the center of the porch to preserve its function as a room.

Living Large in a Small House
A small house can feel and function large when there is ample light and adequate storage space. Nine-foot and higher ceilings with large windows and skylights fill the rooms with light, creating a much larger perceived sense of space. There is ample storage with walk-in closets, built-in shelves and an attic.  We design in nooks, built-in eating alcoves, and deep sills. Living, dining, kitchen, bedroom and bath are all on the main level and there are spacious full-height lofts.

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43 Bradford Street, Concord, MA 01742