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This competition-winning project for thirty-four units of affordable housing is located in the California mission city of Sonoma. The two-acre site is a dead-end parcel off of a major thoroughfare and not presently part of any neighborhood. The challenge was to create a low-cost design that would address the landscape and the community while also creating privacy and a sense of home for new residents. Our solution was to create new, but historically relevant, neighborhood where each unit would have its own front door and outdoor space while being a part of a larger community.

The Sonoma Commons neighborhood is organized around a new version of a traditional tree-lined street. Six small duplex “houses” flank each side of the street, with two triplex houses and a paved court at the end.  In the center of the court are two palm trees, referring to the historic town square nearby. Beyond the court is a free-standing Community Building surrounded by an outdoor children’s play area and a vegetable garden for resident use.

This houses relate to early Sonoma cottage housing with gabled roof, chimneys, small porches, board-and-batten siding and single-hung windows. Driveways with grass lined strips run between them, leading to garages behind each house. Open spaces between houses reveal distant landscape vistas rather than parked automobiles. The sidewalk along the east side is aligned with an axial view of the Community Building designed as a house reminiscent of a ranch homestead.

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