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Sabrina Quote Future

What is a Future Decker?

In its simplest form, a future-decker is any future rendition of the iconic New England triple-decker. It is one meant to serve the needs of current and future residents, centered on social, economic, and environmental equity. It does not inherently mean an entirely new building or a complete elimination of the building’s distinct characteristics; rather, it’s the beginning of a needed shift that could invite more of this type of multifamily housing into our cities. You may have already encountered some, perhaps a triple-decker which has undergone a retrofit, or a building resembling a triple-decker but it includes more units. These are only a few examples of how newer renditions can maintain key characteristics, while striving to be better.

Wentworth Institute of Technology Future Decker studio designs (2020)

A Collective Vision

As we mentioned earlier, this exhibition exists as a way to invite your own stories, adding to the larger collective vision of what the future of this building typology can be and provide to all residents who wish to live in a triple or future-decker.


We have created a workshop “take-home” packet, which we shared with participants during our in-person community conversation. Going through the workshop exercises, participants can share, whether individually or with a friend or family member, their experiences with three-deckers by describing where in Boston they may have lived in or visited one, what activities they did i nit, whom they lived with, and then use the same categories to suggest a future-decker in which they could determine their own needs.


We invite you to digitally create your own future-decker, using the template we provided. You may use the “sticker” components, such as an additional floor, or pitched roof, or even a commercial floor, but also consider what exists around your building, such as the preferred mode of transportation to get to and from your home and whether trees should surround your space and, if so, how many. Again, you may do this exercise individually or with to and see how your visions compare!
To create your own future decker, click here!


In addition to telling the stories shared in this exhibition, and inviting others to do the same, we (the Boston Society for Architecture and the City of Boston's Housing Innovation Lab) have been interested in learning more about the role of multifamily housing in the city of Boston. As studies indicate that “both younger and older nonfamily households are showing a greater tendency to live in multifamily housing than their predecessors,” (GBHRC 2019) we must also think creatively about how to increase housing options of this kind. From this exhibition, you may have realized that multifamily housing makes up the fabric of our cities, yet triple-deckers are just one form of multifamily housing. We would like to hear from you: What other types of multifamily housing have contributed to your own experiences, from living or visiting one to noticing those around you? and What other types of multifamily housing do you feel make our cities what they are today?
Feel free to submit photos and stories in our multifamily housing call for entries.