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."