Christian Fish

Outer Mix

Investigating mixed-use development as a means to fostering a healthy, year-round community on the Outer Cape

Master Thesis by: Christian Fish – M.Arch / Thesis Advisor: Nicole Lambrou

A lack of affordable, year-round housing has become an urgent crisis on Cape Cod, afflicting low- and middle-income families who depend on a largely seasonal economy. The Outer Cape, in particular, has become increasingly vulnerable to the unintended consequences of the vacation housing market, which accounts for 65% of all available housing units. This area is also burdened by strict environmental and zoning laws that promulgate large-lot, single-family development.

The Outer Cape needs a wider range of affordable housing options that serve year-round residents, particularly for those living below median income levels. This proposal offers a conceptual framework for context-sensitive, high-density, mixed-use housing as a holistic solution to this problem, one that addresses the complex environmental, economic, and cultural vulnerabilities that are unique to the region.

Outer Mix imagines a new type of residential, social and economic hub on a 10-acre site in the Eastham Corridor Special District. Organized into four distinct block types repeated throughout the site, 95 residential units are combined with nearly 30,000 square feet of economic and social programming, including: artist studios, co-working spaces and cafés, as well as a library, daycare, and community greenhouse. This program mix enables economic self-sufficiency and community for residents.

High-density development in this fragile ecosystem also requires thoughtful environmental solutions. A network of bioswales and an on-site wastewater treatment facility promote responsible management of stormwater and wastewater. A roof-mounted photovoltaic system generates nearly 1,000 MWh/year of renewable energy, which fulfills all of the site’s energy needs while also generating an annual surplus of 300 MWh/year (equivalent to 230 tons of CO2). These interventions promote a healthy and sustainable environment for years to come.