• Bright exterior colors contribute to the project’s cheerful atmosphere, while sloped roofs bestow a bit of high-ceilinged grandeur on the interior spaces. Each of the six townhouses accomodates four families, and an additional structure holds day-care and

    Credit: Vantage Point Photography

    Bright exterior colors contribute to the project’s cheerful atmosphere, while sloped roofs bestow a bit of high-ceilinged grandeur on the interior spaces. Each of the six townhouses accomodates four families, and an additional structure holds day-care and

studio e architects, san diego, calif.

The judges called HomeSafe "a friendly, welcoming place"—exactly the type of reaction Studio E Architects hoped to evoke. "The goal from the outset was to make it feel uplifting," says principal John Sheehan. The 25-unit co-housing project serves as a transitional residence for battered women and children, a place for them to regroup and stabilize their lives before moving on to a more permanent situation.

Although the families share kitchens and some living space, the units do provide a measure of privacy. Sheehan managed to give most of the mothers their own sleeping alcove, and every family gets a bedroom area exclusively for them. The site plan handles security concerns thoroughly but subtly. "The courtyard is a key part of the project," he says. "You can look across it and see your neighbor. Also, putting the manager's unit toward the entrance gives an opportunity for surveillance without being overt."

principal in charge/land planner: John Sheehan, Studio E Architects
project architect: Jeana Kim, Studio E Architects
developer: Charities Housing Development Corporation/InVision/HomeSafe Collaborative, San Jose, Calif.
general contractor: Francis Ouelette, F/D Ouelette and Sons, San Jose
landscape architect: Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects, San Diego, Calif.
project size: 360 to 560 square feet per unit (sleeping area plus one-quarter of common living area)
site size: 1.1 acre
construction cost: $185 per square foot
rental price: $390 to $410 per month
units in project: 25
photographer: Vantage Point Photography