Modern townhouse design (Terraced houses in the U.K.): a technical guide with architectural definitions, characteristics, a practical example and a 3D BIM model ready for you to use

Townhouses are common types of residential housing that can be found throughout the world and are often designed to meet the needs of small households. Modern townhouse design results in projects that are reviving the traditional concept of multi-stories residential buildings.

In our previous posts we have already covered this topic mainly focusing on technical characteristics of this building typology through a detailed analysis of project works by famous architects.

Click here to read our Focus articles about Townhouses by famous architects and download the relating free project drawings and 3D BIM models

Typically, a townhouse meets certain housing needs of families, who wish to have the same comforts of a detached house but with lower construction and maintenance costs than a single-family villa.

Let’s now take a look at a practical example of a townhouse design by the ACCA software architects and designers team and to some theoretical aspects including definition, characteristics and architecture.

We will also provide the project drawings in DWG and the 3D model produced with a BIM architectural design software available for use to download.

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General characteristics of a townhouse

Townhouses are single-family dwellings built as non-uniform units that resemble detached or semi-detached houses, having two shared perimeter walls and one / two free facades for accessing, independent lighting and ventilation.

Usually they have a floor plan development with:

  • a variable modular facade of 4/6 m
  • depth of 8/14 m

In addition, it is built on several levels intended for different use: living area, sleeping area study or storage area, and it usually has an area with front or back garden.

Townhouses also imply limited design choices:

  • the open space is generally divided into public-semi public areas on the front and private on the back of the house;
  • the small green area, if possible, must be protected from prying eyes with hedges, railings, pergolas, garages;
  • outward facing is possible only on two sides.

From an urban perspective, this type of housing is flexible in height, width and depth; thus, allowing many planimetric variations. In addition, townhouses are usually built on two or more levels to meet customers’ requirements in terms of size.

The classical spaces layout – living area on the ground level and sleeping area on the upper floor – varies in modern designs, with the use of different heights or with offset floors. In terms of urban planning, in recent years this type if design has revived the traditional concept of multi-stories residential buildings by introducing rotations, joints and cuts of the building envelope.

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Townhouse project example

1. the design concept

Our case study addresses the example of a townhouse project inserted in a plot of land with a slight slope and trapezoidal shape. The plot is surrounded by roads on three sides and is located in a suburban area of the town.

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Concept design | General area view with minimum distances from land plot borders and roads

 

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General area view | Representation of housing units with pedestrian entrances, driveways and annexed gardens

After having obtained the area where the buildings will be designed, we proceed to define the details of a typical townhouse. We can then outline the functional organization based on architectural guidelines for the compositional design.

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Concept design | Main study of the townhouse plan and cross-sections

Firstly, we have determined the two living areas distributed on two floors – living room on the ground floor, sleeping area on the first floor – and the garage / storage space at the basement level. Subsequently we have assigned the entrance ramp to the house (8%) and the driveway (18%) to the main facade, equal to 6 m.

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Townhouse type | Floor Plan of the three levels: garage-living area-sleeping area

2. functional division

According to the functional distribution on the ground floor / mezzanine we have the entrance / hallway that houses the internal staircase and the study and leads to the living space consisting of the large kitchenette, dining area and living room. Between the kitchen area and the entrance, the anteroom, the bathroom / laundry and the storage room have been created.

The bright living room opens onto the partially paved back garden.

3. levels connection

The staircase leads to the sleeping area consisting of a double bedroom with en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet, two other bedrooms, a bathroom with ventilation and natural lighting, a storage room and a built-in wardrobe. Large terraces on the main and rear front complete the housing unit.

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Concept design | Functional layout study and standard townhouse cross-section

This townhouse type hass designed to accommodate an average family of four people(A), but since the demand for residential building types is generally diversified, two other types of housing have been designed: one to accommodate a couple of people (B ), the other for a larger family of 5/6 people (C).

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Townhouse type (A) – cross-section a-a

 

Particularly, in the smaller unit we have designed a double-height living room and a study space in the sleeping area consisting of a single bedroom. In any case, there are large bathrooms and walk-in closets.

The largest house is the result of an addition of building complexes combined with the standard module. This latter one is lighted by full-height windows that widen the living area. Upstairs the sleeping area has an extra bedroom and a larger closet.

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Concept design | Townhouse (B) with double height living room

 

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Townhouse with double height living room (B): cross-section c-c

4. materials characteristics

All the seven townhouses in the building plot are externally characterized by exposed brick walls covered in bush-hammered limestone. These coatings are alternated with plastered surfaces on the front and back facades. These townhouses have the following interior finishes:

  • parquet flooring in all rooms;
  • stoneware flooring in the garage, bathrooms and on the terraces;
  • stairs in pigmented concrete;
  • wooden and interior window frames;
  • internal surfaces plastered and covered with porcelain stoneware tiles in the bathrooms and in the kitchenette.

The entrance driveway and the flooring before the garden are in industrial cement, while the driveway for accessing the garage is paved with asphalt. The houses located at the two ends have accesses from the side streets so to widen the area used as a garden.

The pedestrian entrance gate, next to the driveway, is protected by a small cantilevered canopy in reinforced concrete. The perimeter wall of the entire residential plot, as well as the panels separating the seven residential units, are brick walls that can be used as coating together with bush-hammered limestone covers. The private green areas of the housing units are “furnished” by trees of different heights.

Download the project drawings in dwg and the 3D BIM model of the townhouse case study

Here are available for you to download free project drawings of the townhouse case study and the 3D model produced with a BIM architectural design software.

A modern townhouse design project-dwg-drawings-working-drawing_software-BIM-architecture-Edificius

Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file) of the townhouse project example

Download the floor plan, area view, prospects and cross-sections in  DWG of the townhouse project