Is the speed and simplicity of construction now outweighing the improvement of the quality of life of residents in new developments? Are we providing the best built environments for occupants? Do detached and copycat multi-family building typologies provide the best context for quality of life? What can other forms of typologies offer? All of these questions concern us as we witness developments that are similar in their approach and execution.
These lines of thought lead us to think about current regulations and the existing process for designing new projects on large vacant spaces in which, in our opinion, the architect arrives too late in the project. What results is a relatively linear, right-angled project that gives very little consideration to the natural solar orientation of the site and the existing development nearby. Creativity seems to be forgotten. Is a site better optimized by the placement of rectangular buildings? Will the quality of life for future residents be optimal? Do these layouts provide the most advantageous construction cost? Many opinions are valid and we would like to present you with other models of layouts for these new developments.
Before the advent of industrialization, the interior courtyard allowed for the design of dense neighborhoods, but also allowed for the development of flow-through dwellings that favored natural ventilation and the entry of light into all the rooms of the dwellings. The interior courtyard also served as a common area, a meeting place for the residents. It can be used as a play area for children, community gardens or as a place for everyone to relax. Today, the return of courtyards in new neighbourhoods provides the same benefits as in the past. This type of development increases the connection between residents and the sense of belonging to a community. The density of this typology can be as great as the usual multi-dwelling units, because the amenity spaces are simply moved to the courtyards rather than to the gaps created between the rectangular towers.
Organic shapes (i.e. not limited by the right angle):
Not to mention the famous curves of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, organic forms mean getting away from straight forms with right angles. One can imagine the organic forms for BIG’s building, the ”8 House” in Copenhagen. This building is designed in the shape of an 8, consists of 475 units on 10 floors and offers a variety of housing options suitable for families, couples, singles, young and old. The ribbon forming the shape of the 8 is narrow allowing for natural ventilation and generous light entry. The corners of the volumes rise and fall according to the solar orientation to increase the light to the central courtyards. The organic form allows for a passageway through the center of the building to the park near the site. In short, the organic forms increase the possibilities of the building’s design, allowing it to take advantage of the intrinsic characteristics of the site and the immediate neighborhood.
In our opinion, the adjacent typology offers several benefits for the creation of dense neighborhoods, on a human scale and with better energy performance through the compactness of the buildings. In the adjacent typology, we include townhouses, duplexes, triplexes and quadruplexes for buildings of 2, 3 or even 4 floors. The contiguous building can be dynamic in order to create diversified neighborhoods limiting the copy-paste. An example is the Borneo-Sporenburg project of West 8 in Amsterdam which presents a collage effect for a set of contiguous buildings built in the central canal. Very dynamic project!
To create this type of building, there needs to be greater and enhanced collaboration between all the players in a development project. The architect, the planning expert and the person who sees the land as a canvas, must be able to join the project team as soon as possible in order to bring a different point of view on the whole project. He must be able to join the team composed of the developer, the urban planner and the civil engineer quickly. Each has its strengths and those of the architect are mainly in the design and creativity of living environments. Cities can offer more to their residents as diversified, dynamic living environments that increase the quality of life of its occupants. What more could you ask for!