While there is often repetition in apartment building design, we decide to change up the standard so that each apartment doesn’t become a boring clone of the next apartment. In fact, how boring is it to go to your apartment and know that your apartment is exactly the same as every other apartment on the floor and in the building?
It is quite ridiculous to design in this way, that cookie-cutter way. People who purchase their own home clearly want that home to reflect their own personality, be slightly unique and have a quality they can be proud of. So why is it that in large apartment buildings where it would be financially easy to mix things up a bit that it isn’t done. The answer is simple: Architects and Interior Designers are lazy and cheap. They know that if they specify a bathroom, picking out fixtures, surfaces and hardware that they can do this for 300 apartments, charge for 300 apartments yet only have to do the exercise once. Yet it really isn’t much effort for them to do this same exercise 10 or 20 times and alternate the style of the bathrooms unit to unit. Are they afraid that the contractor will get confused? Do they really think a blue tile versus a tan tile will cost more to install? Are they just too lazy to do the work or perhaps they just don’t care. Do you really want to hire someone who is lazy and doesn’t care?
We we’re betting on that it does matter to you which is why we launched SimpleTwig Architecture.llc, to provide developers and homeowners with the best thinking architect in the business. Really, the best thinking architect? Well I have been hired by countless famous architects around the world to do just that for their business, and have designed the projects that major developers, institutions and agencies have come to see built. Now you can skip the high costs of a larger firm and go directly to the source, the mind behind the design, to get the best considered from all aspects for your own project.
But lets get back to the special qualities of this one project in Brooklyn.
A rather special apartment building design by SimpleTwig Architecture.llc, the concept focuses on making the most of the apartment quality, from the moment one steps off the elevator to the moment one sits down on their sofa, the design seeks to maximize living space while minimizing other spaces without compromising quality living.
This article explores the basic layout of the entire apartment floor plan level, which will be supplemented by images of the actual units tomorrow, since we have so much to share on this project. This article also corresponds to two additional articles, one on the parking facilities, and the other on the retail, garden and street level planning of the project. All together, this is how one should make a fully integrated project that makes the most of tenant spaces, provides the community with a special building and provides the owner with a building that is easy to build, maintain and sustain.
We’re putting the final touches on a 40 unit residential project in Brooklyn. It is pretty special in that the project keeps part of an old theater facade and uses it to announce the retail component of the project, through awnings and little local vendors which can casually set up their wares below the awnings. The extra traffic and attention will be a boost for the anchor tenant who has a commanding view of this important residential corner.
This project is split into 3 articles, released the 8th of September, the 10th and the 12th.
There are many advantages for a townhouse owner to occupy a lower duplex, or perhaps it is the top floor duplex they should seek, and while a very strong case can be made to put the owner of a townhouse on the lower floors, there are solid arguments for occupying the top two floors. I, architect Nick Buccalo, will examine both possibilities and invite your comments on the issue.
This version is for the smaller walkup building of 25’x60′ in order to fit the programmatic components comfortably. It provides a way for a developer to accommodate more people within a building footprint and thus increase the yearly income.
The concept is simple, take what would normally be a three bedroom apartment and change it to 4 shared living suites where individuals get their own private suite, complete with a private bathroom, bedroom and living space, and then share only the kitchen and other building amenities. For a 5 story walkup, the potential is for 19 ‘bedroom suites’ versus the conventional 5-3 bedroom apartments. It is simple math from this point to understand that the suites are occupied with working adults while 2/3’s of the bedrooms from a standard apartment are occupied by children, or, that home office.
This layout option is for the Homeowner, who may not be willing to invest in our ultimate walkup shared living layout which has initial higher upfront costs with a higher return over a longer period of time making it more appropriate for the developer. This version is more of a straight forward apartment with shared bathroom, kitchen and living rooms with more modest sized suites, the ultimate version to be released soon has individual suites with their own bathrooms and only a shared kitchen, the living areas are within each suite.
For new construction, and in this as other studies to create rental apartments, an Architect is going to be confronted by two likely scenarios, the adjacent buildings have existing party-walls with the property line running through it’s center, or, there are no adjacent buildings and thus new party-walls can be built directly over the property line. In this version of our townhouse plan, we explore the ramifications of an existing party-wall that can not be used as it does not meet earthquake code requirements, or, a new building positioned it’s party-wall completely onto its own property.
This results in slightly less interior space, but also creates a unique situation where the joists can run from the front of the building to the back. The design result, is a 2 bedroom apartment with a huge great room with 3 windows bringing in the light and air, something that most people in New York City, Chicago, Boston or any large city would love to have.
Building a townhouse from scratch has its advantages and results in a slightly different layout than the previous floor plans designed as retrofits into existing townhouses of varying sizes. In new construction, typical FAR’s (Floor Area Ratio) allows for the length of the new structure on typical 100′ lots to be what it ideally wants to be.
In the this version we design the townhouse to have shared party-walls, thus giving the interior enough extra space that we can slightly shorten the building to 48′-4″, 1′-8″ less than the infill version in the next article. This helps lower the cost of construction without sacrificing comfort, and provides a means to save ‘allowable square feet’ on every floor shift that savings to add an extra floor for a Great Room over looking a roof terrace.
We get a lot of calls for bathroom and kitchen renovations. Often we refer them to other companies given their limited budget. Not that we’re unwilling to do them but we also don’t want them to spend money on us when with very limited funds it could be spent on materials.
That said, we do design kitchens, bathroom or whatever program element a home owner desires. This project was special in that it was built for a NYC Police Officer hurt on the job and confined to a wheel chair. Despite the limited budget we couldn’t say no. Read more →
The design challenge is to maximize the square footage within a typical 20’x45′ townhouse footprint while minimizing the lost space in public areas. Sounds simple? Haha, yeah sure. To do so one needs to examine all the pieces to ensure they themselves are efficient, and then arrange those pieces in such a way to avoid wasted space and improve sizes of rooms based on their hierarchical importance.
So we want to minimize the public spaces, the hallways and push that area savings into the main rooms of the apartment. At the same time we want to maximize the number of bedrooms, keep all plumbing and vent stacks in one area to minimize cost of construction, and keep everything nice and easy to build with simply arranged partitions, so the cost stays reasonable, and the time it takes to finish is quick. Clean layouts means less confusion for contractors, thus avoiding mistakes.
Can we at SimpleTwig Architecture.llc do it? We think we have and would like to present a clean, highly efficient apartment layout ready for most townhouses in New York City, Chicago and other urban areas, allowing the Home Owner to maximize their rent roll while providing their tenants with homes they will look forward to living in.