WHAT'S IN submits Hearth House in response to affordable housing

In partnership with Corcoran Jennison Associates, WHAT’S IN was pleased to submit its response for the design and development of a parcel at 24 Westminster Avenue in Roxbury (a neighborhood of Boston) as part of the Garrison Trotter Housing Innovation Competition. Our design is rooted in the longstanding tradition of community living that is the trademark of Roxbury. In the triple decker units that housed the city’s 20th century working-class families, smaller living quarters was a relatively new concept, and resources were shared among the residents. The plan presented was designed as a modern-day interpretation of the triple decker, as the city seeks yet again to find the most efficient way to house its growing population.

QUAD re-installed at BSA Space

QUAD joins the BSA exhibit OneRoomMansion at 290 Congress St. The installation, featuring the winning entry from KiKi Archi, includes series of hang-out zones and hosts the research from WHAT'S IN on "designing meaningful social spaces".  The exhibit will be on show until January 30, 2017.

QUAD Opens at ABX2016

After 4 weeks of fabrication, WHAT'S IN opens the QUAD exhibit at ABX2016. The installation is a winning design by KiKiArchi and Kohji Kawabata, the structure is made of 372 folded paper pyramids, and the design is inspired by sunlight filtered through a tree canopy. Visit our "Exhibits" page for photos of the finished installation. 

QUAD 2016 Installation Coming to Live at ABX

Our WHAT'S In team has been working hard the past few weeks with students from Wentworth Institute of Technology and MassArt alongside KiKi ARCHi to have this installation come to live at ABX Nov 15-17. "Folding Paper", the winning submission, is composed of 40" x 60" sheets of paper folded into origami-like triangular shapes assembled together through the use of card board tubes, zip ties, staples and round lumber pieces. The lightness, flexibility and affordability of the structure aligns with our continued research on innovative affordable micro-living in urban environments.

We would like to extend an invitation for everyone to attend our award and reception ceremony for QUAD 2016 at the BCEC (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center) on Nov 16th 5-6pm. There will be tons of food, drinks and interesting conversations about meaningful public spaces in urban living environments.

Kohji Kawabata, on the top right hand corner, folding and creating paper pieces with our team

Card Board Tubes Everywhere! Our dear Erick and James having a fun afternoon with band saws and card board tubes

It is nice to see the fruits of several hours of work. The first rows have been assembled and are getting ready to be packaged and shipped to BCEC.

After long hours of work a family meal is well deserved!

Winner Announced for the Quad 2016 Competition

The Quad Competition is an international call for a social space installation. Proposals were challenged to envision a meaningful and impactful installation occupying a 20'x70' area that enriched the experience of social interactions. Proposals were asked to employ thoughtful and innovative exhibition and fabrication methods without sacrificing cost and feasibility of construction.

KiKi ARCHi, a Tokyo-based architecture design firm led by Yoshihiko Seki, was selected as the final winner among 6 finalists. The judging panel was impressed by the proposal's inventive use of a light-weight material, the thoughtful integration of research display, and the spatial quality the design is able to create. it is an elegant solution that's both sophisticated architecturally, and simple to fabricate.

WHAT'S IN engaging Boston communities

Our team join has joined forces with the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab and Boston Society of Architects to bring the concept of compact urban living to six Boston neighborhoods. The outreach effort brought to life a 385 sf apartment called uhu (Urban Housing Unit), with prefabricated exterior and a sleek and functional interior, all of which designed with affordability in mind. 

WHAT'S IN designed a series of interactive games around the theme of communal spaces, compact living areas, and cost of renting a place in the city. The goal is to help the city find out what the neighborhoods are looking for in terms of housing affordability and what types of new living arrangements people would be comfortable with. 

Roslindale residents exploring the concept of compact urban living

Roslindale residents exploring the concept of compact urban living

The team also designed a board game that invites residents to consider the trade-offs among apartment sizes, access to transit and urban amenities. We found out that, so far, majority of our participant prioritize the balance between all these elements over size alone.  

Who's up for a board game? 

Who's up for a board game? 

The uhu welcoming guests from different neighborhoods. 385 sf could be very cozy when well designed. For more information about the uhu, visit www.liveuhu.com

The uhu welcoming guests from different neighborhoods. 385 sf could be very cozy when well designed. For more information about the uhu, visit www.liveuhu.com

ABX 2015

Our hard work finally paid off!  On November 17-19th, the Urban Living Lab exhibit welcomed its visitors with research data in Boston housing, small living design solutions, robotic architecture from MIT media Lab, and a virtual mock showcasing all the designs WHAT'S IN came up with over the past year. 

The exhibit structure is composed of 17 bays L-Shape 2x4 lumber connected on hinges. When each bay is expanded and placed at 3 ' apart, the structure takes shape of a series of truss-like gable pavilions. The display boards, painted on the exterior and laminated with our graphics on the interior, acts as a rigid diaphragm for the structure. Overall, each pavilion is themed with a research topic and is turned open on plan to allow entrance into the interior.

Each of the four pavilions take on a specific topic from WHAT'S IN design research.  Pavilion one asks "how to address growing housing demands by year 2030", revealing the dire shortage of housing stock in Boston and the rapid increase in rental prices. Pavilion two proposed using "small-living" as a model for more affordable urban living, surveying exiting projects and proposing new designs in this relatively new typology. This pavilion also includes the studio work from the Roger Williams University students on their designs for a small-urban living project in South Boston.

Pavilion three looks for technology solutions to make small living spaces feel larger, showcasing the Architecture Robotics project from MIT Media Lab, and the Multi-wall product that could be customized with a variety of purposes. Pavilion four investigated solutions to building more small-living for affordable workforce housing in Boston, including policy changes proposed by the Mayor's Housing Innovation Lab, prefab and modular construction methods comparisons, as well as a discussion on the appropriate scale and structural system for this new housing typology.

Great many thanks to everyone that made this exhibit happen. We are really grateful for the Boston Society of Architects for including us again for ABX,  Castle OS, HIL, Cubiq, RWU and MIT Media Lab for content collaboration, Whitney Veigas for donating time and resources for our graphics application, HBF/Davis/Lowenstein/Bernhardt/Redthread for their beautiful furniture pieces,  and Stantec for all its continued financial support and much more beyond.

Making our cities affordable and livable will take more than just design, We had a lot of good discussions during the exhibit with students, housing experts, disruptive innovators, and policy makers. As a research group, we will keep exploring key aspects of the topic, and keep a platform of discussion going across different fields. See you next year!

ONEin3 Impact Award

Aeron Hodges Receives ONEin3 impact award from Mayor on behalf of the WHAT'S IN team

Aeron (left) with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other OneIn3 award winners. (Photo by the Mayor’s Office/Don Harney)

Aeron (left) with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other OneIn3 award winners. (Photo by the Mayor’s Office/Don Harney)

We are ready to change the city, are you?


As part of the crowd sourcing effort, WHAT'S IN organized a design workshop with the architects and interior designers from ADD Inc. / Stantec. Everyone was asked to design a 300 sf dream unit for themselves.

What's your ideal 300 sf? 

* drawings produced by Animish Kudalkar