A series of three single-family homes in West Roxbury, nestled into a rocky hillside overlooking the V.F.W. Parkway, will be Boston’s first certified Passive Houses. At the client’s request, these houses’ airtight and heavily-insulated shells will significantly limit energy usage for heating and cooling throughout the seasons. The project embraces sustainability beyond passive house requirements by using fly-ash and treated wood cladding materials, and treed terraces in the sloped backyard that reduce erosion and water runoff.
The houses, though sharing a material and formal language, respond individually to their positions on the long site. The first house orients its peaked roof north, toward the V.F.W. Parkway; the middle house bridges the trio with symmetry and a prominent south-west facade, fronting Brucewood Street; and the third house looks uphill, into the neighborhood and wooded area to the south-east. Each house features wooden louvres that grow from the rhythm of the wood-plank upper facade and control the light entering the central living/dining space. The louvres add another passive energy strategy to the design by directing solar gain, reflecting harsh summer sunlight to keep the interior cool, and admitting lower winter sun to be held in the thermal mass of each house’s concrete slab.
An earth-toned lower level roots each building into the rocky hillside, while a wood-clad upper level seems to hover in the trees. Each home includes an attached one-car garage and mudroom, with space for storage and for a workshop. Each home’s main entry, carved into their lower masses, draws one into an airy living space bracketed by kitchen and living room with dining in between, a small powder room near the mudroom door, and an atrium staircase against a double-height, south-facing window opposite. Upstairs, a corridor opens onto three smaller bedrooms, a bathroom, and the corner master bedroom with ensuite and walk-in-closet. The master plus three smaller bedrooms provide a young family with the flexibility of a guest room or office, with rooms to grow over the years.
59 / 61 / 65 Brucewood Street
West Roxbury, MA 02132
3 Single-Family Houses
4 Bed, 2.5 Bath, 1 car garage
2,700 SF ea. (gross)