Here are some examples of social housing projects with common deck access together with description, design criteria, 3D models ready for download

In our previous articles we have analyzed the main aspects regarding townhouses, whereas this week’s Focus Project will review Social Housing projects.

In each article you will have the opportunity to download famous projects DWG drawings, renders and project drawings (floor plans, prospects, sections). A 3D BIM model can also be downloaded or browsed using the online BIM Voyager.

Let’s start off reviewing Social Housing buildings characteristics, taking some famous project as reference for our analysis.


Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file format) inspired by a social housing project in Lleida

Social housing modern design example in Lleida – rendering made with Edificius

Social housing modern design example in Lleida – rendering made with Edificius


Download the 3D BIM model (.edf file format) inspired by social housing in Lecce

Social Housing modern design example in Lecce – rendering made with Edificius

Social Housing modern design example in Lecce – rendering made with Edificius


Click here to download Edificius, the architectural design BIM software

Social Housing

Social Housing with deck access is a special type of flat blocks where the deck represents a common space to access different rooms or, in case of a condominium, to single living units.

Typically each apartment would have 2 storeys, and the front door would be reached from the shared open walkway.

These type of houses scheme is more developed in length rather than in height. It consists of a standard room arrangement facing towards an external corridor with the balcony/deck providing access to the flat units.

Social housing with deck access scheme

Social housing with deck access scheme

The deck access is an architectural element having a continuous inset balcony, usually onto which the door of each flat opens, and consisting of a railing, a parapet and a balustrade.

The deck access thus identifies the balcony with railing placed along either the internal or external side of a building.

Social housing with balcony access

Social housing with balcony access

Social Housing with deck access projects  are typically associated to high- density urban areas.

This type of design is back in vogue as a sustainable solution to meet the needs of young couples, smaller families or students not needing very large houses, but rather comfortable and liveable places.


Social Housing in Lleida – pianta complessiva piano terra

Social Housing in Lleida – ground floor plan

Download the Lleida project floor plan DWGs in .zip format

Designing a house with a deck access

During the design phase, one of the main aspects to be considered is the internal arrangement of rooms in order to guarantee more privacy.

Therefore openings should be designed so to avoid public view.

The rooms layout varies depending on the square footage available.
In case of an apartment distributed on one floor, we will probably have a basic accommodation consisting of kitchen-living room, bathroom and one or two bedrooms. On the contrary, in case of an internal vertical connection, the duplex apartment will be distributed on two floors. In this latter case,  the scheme will envisage a living area on the ground floor and a sleeping area at the upper level.


Social Housing in Lleida – pianta singoli appartamenti – tipologia A, tipologia B

Social Housing in Lleida – single units floor plan – type A, type B


With regard to the planimetric layout of these buildings it is important to consider some factors.
Lodgings with deck access are characterized by only two views, having the perimeter walls that delimit the living space in common with other lodgings.
It is important to position the building’s longer sides facing north and south so to make the most of the daylight.
Furthermore it is necessary to design the interior environments according to their use and functionality.

Social Housing projects

There are several examples of buildings with common deck access recently destined to social housing for students or elder people.
A contemporary example that we are going to examine is the project by Coll-Leclerc studio in Lleida, Catalonia (Spain).
A 44-units social housing with 60 m² flats, 11 per floor, on a 3.383 m² area.
The building optimizes the solar radiation, having been oriented in relation to the sun, and consequently benefiting in terms of heating and cooling.
All flat have the same dimension and structure.

Social Housing Pardinyes district in Lleida, Catalonia

The project was built in Pardinyes, an old neighbourhood in Lérida (Lleida in Catalan) by architects Jaime Coll Lòpez and Judith Leclerc and developed as a residential area at the beginning of the 90s.
The project has won the Vivienda Social de Cataluña 2009 Award, conferred by the Asociación de Vivienda Social de Cataluña, which recognizes the excellence in the residential building construction sector.


Modello di social housing ispirato al progetto a Lleida dello studio Coll-Leclerc

Social housing model by Coll-Leclerc studio inspired by the Lleida project

Browse the project model


The project by architects Coll & Leclerc envisages a single building made up of two separate blocks sharing a common vestibule and stairs. It consists of 44 dwelling units, 11 per floor, with reduced transition space on the ground floor and deck access arranged for the remaining 3 floors.

The building structure is made of reinforced concrete beams and columns and lightweight floor slabs with in-fill blocks.

The facade facing south and east, on the street side, is built with a pattern of openings alternating void and infill with vertical and horizontal corrugated steel. The metallic skin changes according to the angles of the sun, thus transforming the facade throughout the day and year.

The north-west facing facades opened to the internal courtyard are,instead, plastered.


Social Housing - Lleida – assonometria

Social Housing – Lleida – isometric view

Lleida: download the project isometric view DWGs in .zip format

Both types of façades are characterized by some parts with metal slats, alternating empty spaces to full spaces.

The interior environment is a “dynamic” space made of two potential rooms (separate or unified) that can be used as bedrooms or as parts of a single living area. Therefore interrupting the dual tradition of separate night area/living area.

The apartment access envisages aluminum sliding doors and all the apartments open and close through two holes in the façade, favoring climate control, visual control and security.


Social Housing in Lleida – prospetto

Social Housing in Lleida – prospect

Lleida: download the project prospect DWGs in .zip format


Social Housing - Lleida – particolare esterno

Social Housing – Lleida – outdoor detail

Social Housing in Lecce

Another example of recent housing with deck access is a 2012 project built in  Lecce, Italy. Following the development of the university area, a residential building has been designed to satisfy the lodging request of many young students.

Social housing model ispired by a project in Lecce

Social housing model ispired by a project in Lecce

Browse the project model

The building stands on a long and narrow site (12×44 mt) resulted from the demolition of a one-storey house with a backgarden

Lecce: download the project floor plan DWGs in .zip format


The project frames a space enclosed by two buildings and determines an internal court placed below the road level.

The substructure has an impluvium section with a cistern carved into the rock in the center, creating a second non-potable water network, which is destined to feed baths and washing machines drains.
The flats on the ground floor are developed on two levels and contain small hypogeans gardens.

On the contrary, the flats on higher levels (two apartments per floor) are horizontally connected by long decks and vertically connected by helicoidal stairs and by an elevator.

Social housing-Lecce-prospetto

Social housing-Lecce-prospect

Lecce: download the project prospect DWGs in .zip format


The bow windows of the main prospect and the alternating back prospects openings follow the solar radiation effect.

The brise soleil system within the courtyard is made of metal perforated panels with arabesque patterns. This confuguration ensures greater privacy on the balconies, promotes the thermohygrometric well-being through natural ventilation and grants better soundproofing.

In the evening, when the artificial light creates a game of shadow through the perforated panels, pleasant drawings are reflected on the court walls.

Social Housing - Lecce – sezione

Social Housing – Lecce – project section

Lecce: download the project section DWGs in .zip format

 Typical elements of the local building tradition are reinterpreted and revived in a modern way: holes in the sky, glass loggias, exposed rock, cantilevered balconies.

Social Housing in Lecce – staircase rendering

Social Housing in Lecce – staircase rendering


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