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Jenny French and French 2D featured in Architect magazine’s Next Progressives series

Jenny French (MArch ’11), design critic in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and her practice French 2D are the focus of Architect magazine’s latest installment of Next Progressives, a monthly feature spotlighting an exciting architectural firm or practitioner.

French co-founded French 2D, an architecture studio based in Boston, in 2008 alongside her sister, Anda French. The firm’s work addresses the intersection of architecture, storytelling, and society. Recent and current projects include a 180-unit micro-housing building in Boston, a co-housing community in greater Boston, and large-scale graphic work. This past October, French 2D’s stage-set-like installation Place/Setting housed a series of public dinner parties on Boston's City Hall Plaza for the annual HUBweek. In 2013, the firm was one of five finalists in the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program.

French 2D is working with 30 families for its Cohousing Community apartment project in Malden, Mass. The building includes floor plans ranging from micro-studio to three-bedroom units with shared community spaces. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.
French 2D is working with 30 families for its Cohousing Community apartment project in Malden, Mass. The building includes floor plans ranging from micro-studio to three-bedroom units with shared community spaces. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018. Image courtesy French 2D.

Though French 2D, Jenny and Anda have taken up what they call “strange housing”—meaning micro-housing, co-housing, and adaptive reuse—as one avenue of focus. Speaking with Architect about a favorite project, they explain a current project involving a group of 30 families that is self-developing an urban co-housing community in greater Boston. “Not only is this a chance to rethink housing typologies, resilience, and social models, it is an exercise in inventing our own participatory design process,” the Frenches note. “We’ve taken the lessons learned from our recently completed 180-unit microhousing project, 1047 Comm. Ave. [in Boston], and amplified the ethos of small living with shared resources and collaborative processes.”

A fun fact revealed in this feature? While Jenny and Anda entitled their practice French 2D, they continue toying with possible alter-ego names. GSD dean Mohsen Mostafavi suggested they call their firm “Frenchies.”

Jenny French graduated from the GSD in 2011, and currently teaches in the architecture core-studio program in addition to her French 2D practice.

Read the French sisters' full interview via Architect‘s website.

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French 2D's 2013 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program finalist project, entitled "White Noise," is a sound-sharing environment composed of large, white, synthetic turf–covered geometric volumes with embedded speakers. To encourage participation and community within the space, visitors are invited to share sounds via a cellphone app, which are then transmitted through the volumes.
French 2D's 2013 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program finalist project, entitled “White Noise,” is a sound-sharing environment composed of large, white, synthetic turf–covered geometric volumes with embedded speakers. To encourage participation and community within the space, visitors are invited to share sounds via a cellphone app, which are then transmitted through the volumes. Images courtesy French 2D.