Accessory Dwelling: Increase Density & Opportunity


Team Members

Meri Tepper, Ted Porter, Ted Sheridan, John Buckley

Juror Summary
Cogently elucidates the vast potential of rezoning for accessory dwelling units (“granny flats”) to increase housing choice within existing residential neighborhoods.

Key Themes
multi-unit housing, innovative building types, financing tools, infill development


This project reconsiders planning and construction possibilities for a first ring post-suburban neighborhood. When treated as flexible, and not sacred ground, first-ring suburban lots can be rezoned to allow an accessory dwelling structure. Allowing additional dwelling on existing lots gives residents options to offer accommodation to extended family or to earn additional income through rents. Redefining traditional notions of setback, orientation, density and infrastructure allows for a community that offers more to this generation and the next.

Maximizing Cultural Sustainability: The lower and middle class children who grew up in Levittown can no longer afford to buy into the same American Dream as their parents. Land value has driven the cost of a 900 sq. ft. house on a quarter acre upwards of $400,000. Simultaneously, the population of these neighborhoods is rapidly aging, and with increased operational costs and dependency upon a social network, certain homeowners are looking for ways to maximize the profitability of their land and house without having to move. In an age where developable land is scarce, middle to low income families looking for a house in an active community can have an option other than remote 5th, 6th or 7th ring developments.

Energized Density: In this dense post-suburban setting, landscape is still maintained as the conventional boundary between residences. Landscape will still be the accepted boundary between these single-family houses, but the language shifts from that of yard and fence, to that of garden room and utility zone. While doubling the density of the first ring suburbs, the ecological footprint is reduced by incorporating diverse technologies in a new approach to infrastructure.

Modular Diversity: Instead of relying on the traditional agents of suburban development – timber, labor, machinery, time and cost – this proposal collapses these variables by exploiting the advantages of the modular building industry. House construction is considered as an assembly of rooms, that expands and contracts according to individual needs. Specifically designed modular units can be configured in numerous ways to accommodate different scales of expansion and new construction.

Result: Through a scheduled framework for growth, homeowners can buy into a new structure for living in first ring post-suburban neighborhoods.