Pioneer Valley Cohousing is the first cohousing neighborhood built in the Eastern United States. It continues to prove itself a profound model of ecological, community-based housing to which visitors and scholars flock.
PVCH is the home to both Laura Fitch and Mary Kraus, as well as the Kraus-Fitch office. Mary was part of the original architectural team along with Bill Austin and Peter Kitchell. Laura was a member of the client design team, and later became the representative to the client group during construction. Since move-in, KFA has helped design many additions to the homes, including porches, mudrooms, and finished attics.
PVCH is a 32-household cohousing community with a 5,000 SF common house. This semi-rural community is conveniently located within walking distance of North Amherst village center and several bus lines. Seventy-five percent of the 23-acre site was left undeveloped of buildings and roadways, maximizing conservation and clustering houses to support community interaction. Thirty percent of the units meet affordability goals set by the town of Amherst. The housing fronts a pedestrian walkway on the sloped land, leaving the better agricultural acres available for a community garden.
The buildings are oriented to maximize solar gain, and the construction incorporates superinsulation of the exterior envelope. Materials and systems were selected to minimize ecological impact and maximize indoor air quality.