Depending on design and function, townhouses can vary in height and width to match its surroundings. Some have a filter to the street represented by a specific function such as a storage, commercial spaces or a small patio, a strategy that can create a higher structure. Some are deeper, thereby diminishing the number of floors, others are oppositely constructed.
In this project, we explore design strategies for integrating townhouses into European cities where the building type is not yet common. We will look at advantages and disadvantages with regards to user analysis, urban design, social factors and explore how to algorithmically combine design and cost calculations.
● Lectures on townhouse architecture.
Through a series of lectures, students will gain an overview of existing townhouse architecture. The lectures will focus on Belgium and The Netherlands.
● Lectures on urban design, policy, culture and politics
Introducing a new type of residential structure touches larger questions regarding urban design, which inevitably relates to decision making on a higher level. Here, the concept of the Belgian Bouwmeester (the city architect) will be explained in a series of lectures. In comparison with other countries, the Belgian city architect arguably has more influence on the future of the city and ultimately the country. He or she creates awareness about the importance of architecture, promotes design diversity and concepts such as slow urbanism, all grounded in academic research.
We take inspiration from the Belgian Bouwmeester concept and the Belgian/Dutch townhouse tradition
● affect the density of cities and efficient usage of livable areas?
● affect the city’s infrastructure?
● contribute to a greener city?
● be integrated into an existing urban structure?
● Case study drawing workshops.
Based on precedents, students will make case study models of townhouses with help from hand sketches, Rhino/Grasshopper and physical models.
Questions to be answered by this exercise: what are, roughly, the proportions of a well planned townhouse?
● Students explore the city to find gaps in the urban structure that can be used for the project’s site. Based on the selections, seminar group discussion on the site’s history, architectural style, infrastructure and so forth will be carried out in order to make a final selection. Depending on the site’s size, it is likely that clusters of townhouses can be created on a shared site.
● Investigating proportions.
With regards to the site and the case studies, students create detailed 3-dimensional digital models to determine the buildings width, height and depth. This can however change throughout the design process since outer measures are strongly interconnected with interior components such as e.g. layout grids deriving from staircase design, which is a central design problem in these types of structures.
● The work is carried out using Rhinoceros and Grasshopper, where the latter offers algorithmically changeable design solutions and is connected to information regarding volume, area, length and weight of the building’s components.
● Design phase 3 is concluded with a midterm presentation
Design phase 4
● Students explore construction methods on a conceptual level
● Components integrated into Grasshopper are used to create a rough cost calculation.
● Students develop their designs and go deeper into details, also creating a concept for the garden, the air flow through the building, materials to be used, heating and cooling concepts.
● Design phase 4 is concluded with a final presentation and an exhibition.
— architecture project, bachelor/master