Homes are functional machines, although most people don’t consider this factor when designing a new home, or only as a side note. Lets, for a moment, discuss the functional aspects of what humans have to deal with when functioning in a home solely from their point of view, and assume there is a fitting design to solve their daily and weekly tasks in order to save humans the maximum amount of time, thus providing extended opportunities to enjoy life. This is a ‘house as machine’ examination!
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.