Inspiring apartment building design complete with descriptions, architectural features, DWG CAD resources and 3D model ready for you to use
This Focus insight on building typologies continues with the analysis of some famous apartment building design. Particularly, we will explore two projects designed by some famous architects and reproduce the BIM model and DWG CAD drawings which you can even download..
Before starting off, we suggest you to download the trial version of Edificius, the architectural BIM designed software used to produce the project examples.
Apartment building: definition and architectural features
With the term apartment building we refer to a residence:
- used by two or more households having common distribution systems (stairs, balconies, lifts, etc.)
- with common structural elements
- where lodgings have no independent access
- which presents one or more linear aggregated staircases that constitute a single serial building. From the stairwell it is possible to access the lodgings
- where the internal aggregative unit is constituted by the apartment (distributed on one or more floors).
Apartment buildings are multi-family and multi-storey dwellings having two or more apartment per floor. Dwelling units are attached one to one another by common walls and, generally, are with a common facade.
In addition, this type of dwelling has also been widely used throughout Europe in the various post-war building subsidized plans.
Apartment buildings layouts
A common solution is to locate the central corridor for a double distribution of apartment units at each side of the hallway. The result is, however, a disadvantage in terms of cross ventilation through the building, although it represents an interesting opportunity for the natural cooling of rooms.
Adopting an East-West orientation and a central distribution system would result as an unbalanced solution. As a matter of fact, the apartments located north of the corridor would be sun-deprived since facing only North.
A great architect like Le Corbusier solved the thermal imbalances problem (having light on the East side only in the morning and on the West side only in the afternoon) by designing apartments on two levels. Like in his famous Unitè d’habitation in Marseille, he identified the central distribution system every third apartment (managing to guarantee also a cross ventilation).
Famous apartment building projects
The Weissenhof estate in Stuttgart, by Mies Van der Rohe
The Weißenhofsiedlung (weissenhof estate) is a housing estate built in Stuttgart in 1927, in occasion of the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition.
It has been conceived as a sort of international “showcase” to show (architectural and social) innovations introduced by the Modern architecture movement. The estate included twenty-one buildings comprising sixty dwellings.
The housing development known as Weissenhofsiedlung, was commissioned to seventeen very influential architects: Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris), Josef Frank, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud.
Mies van der Rohe was in charge of the project, as architectural director of the Werkbund, and was appointed to select architects, manage the site and the budget and supervise the entire project. He delegated the various lots to the emerging members of German association of artists, designers, and architects while also arranging the urban planning.
This estate was named Weissenhof, meaning white villagge in German, where white was the color symbol of this movement, likewise the flat roof and the big terraces. For this reason, it was said to be resembling an arabic village.
Advertised as a prototype of future workers’ housing, the buildings of the complex did not vary much in terms of form. Terraced houses, detached houses and blocks of flats were part of this great design consistency.
Typical features of these buildings are a basic facade, flat roofs used as terraces, strip windows, the so-called “free plan” and a high level of prefabrication. These characteristics allowed the construction to be terminated in only five months. In addition a simplified but very functional floor plan built around a corridor leading to the living area.
One of the most interesting buildings is the row of 5 houses by Oud having a back facade facing the street (read here the article from our Focus insight dedicated to townhouses and download the dwg cad drawings).
Currently only eleven out of the original twenty-one buildings have survived.
Villaggio Matteotti in Terni, by De Carlo
Villaggio Matteotti, was built from 1969 to 1975 in Terni by architect Giancarlo De Carlo to provide accommodation for the workers of a steel company. It is generally considered as one of the most important residential neighbourhood of the Italian architecture between the end of ‘60s and ’70s.
‘Libertarian socialism’ was the underlying force to De Carlo’s planning and design as it was meant to serve the local people’s needs.
Some fundamental features of the project are:
- the pedestrian areas are separated from the car areas with rare intersections where strictly necessary. There is easy traffic circulation with adequate garage equipment and parking
- private green areas are assigned to each dwelling, and are subtracted from a collective control as much as possible
- public services are developed not only to solve the immediate needs of the inhabitants, but to serve also the surrounding areas
- the type of housing varies according to the prevailing family compositions, thus the internal arrangement allows a great variety in the use of the space.
He generated a apartment buildings design by grouping the units (or typologies) of six apartaments and positioning opened staircases as connection ramps between pedestrian paths at grade and those raised above.
In this way, 4 functional typologies of accommodation are given form, but there are as many as 45 different formal types, very similar to each other.
Each apartment has its own large garden terrace or roof-garden. These spaces are used by the residents as an extension of the domestic environment.
Identical apartments are then just offset.
‘Villaggio Matteotti’ can therefore be considered as a positive ‘excess’ of formal diversity.
The individual units of 6 dwellings forming the apartment buildings do not present as well-defined and distinguishable bodies. The garden terraces, the kitchens and the living rooms seem to be randomly composed and protrude differently.
De Carlo proposed a “self-build” scenario for the local workers where the dwellers would become co-designers. However, the future inhabitants were not to take part in the construction and it was never contemplated the possibility to use a technology produced by the local steel company.