How to design apartment buildings: a case study with definition, design criteria, DWG CAD files and 3D model produced with a BIM software for architects and engineers
In this practical guide we’ll be having a closer look at a particular type of building configuration regarding Apartment building plans.
Further on you’ll be able to explore various design aspects through a practical case study with project drawings and renders supported by the use of a 3D BIM software for the AEC industry.
We suggest you to immediately download the trial version of Edificius, the architectural BIM design software used to produce the Apartment building project.
A few weeks ago, we already had a closer look at other types of Housing layouts dealing with townhouses and social housing. This week, we’ll continue our study looking at their main characterisctics and some of the most popular projects that have adopted this type of urban configuration.
Let’s see definition and which elements characterize them.
Apartment buildings definition
Apartment buildings are a residential building layout that stand out for their linear aggregation (not necessarily straight) of individual housing units grouped two by two around a vertical connection formed of multi-storey and multi-family residences, consisting of a stairwell that serves at least two apartments per floor.
However, they can also be formed by the linear aggregation of two or more stairwells.
The surface of the single residential unit (and therefore the distribution structure) is variable; the single building may contain standard sized or variable sized lodgings.
Normally the stairwell is placed at the center and serves two flats per floor.
In some cases, configuartions with three apartments per floor necessary. In this case, a double room overlooking the other two apartments is used as a solution and is placed at the stairwell level.
In most cases, the need to have two road facing sides may affect the overall depth of the building too.
Of course, there are also living comfort and envrionmental aspects that must be considered seeing as they must be ventilated and illuminated directly. Given the particular building composition, light and ventilation sources need to be positioned along the building’s perimeter walls while the central part is used as a hallway area.
The ground floor can be used entirely or partially as a porch area or may in some cases be dedicated to other types of residential uses especially for the elderly and the disabled.
This part of the building also has the added value of being equipped with private gardens and play areas.
From a Geometrical point of view, height and length are theoretically unlimited.
Length basically depends on the number of minimum required housing units.
The thickness of the building structure is often variable: on average 10-11 meters (from a minimum of 7-8 to a maximum of 12-13 meters).
The height of the building, its volume and its footprint depend on the urban planning regulations and on the choices made by the designer.
Internal layout and distribution
The internal organisation and partition wall layout is normally arranged according to a barycentric configuration with respect to the depth of the building in order to:
- minimize the space reserved for entrances, corridors and other connective elements allowing each room to be reached with short passages from the entrance and/or corridor;
- avoid having passage rooms, which would make the whole residence less functional since crossing inside rooms creates virtual corridors that reduce the quality of living.
Links between accommodations
The connection between several typological modules takes place outside at ground floor, via a sidewalk (open connection), via a portico (covered connection).
The ground floor is therefore the best part of the building plan to arrange dedicated spaces intended for the community (children’s play areas, elderly meeting centers, etc.) or residences for disabled or elderly people.
Apartment buildings: subtypes
The various subtypes depend on the aggregation morphology. For example:
- battens, when the typological modules are joined together according to a straight axis
- crescent (or fan), when the approach is total but according to a curved line
- chain, when the typological modules always aggregate according to a straight axis but with partial combinations leading to an oblique pattern
- angled, when between the typological modules there are special “Y”, “L”, “T” connection solutions
- in courts, when the typological modules aggregate forming an internal court.
An Apartment Buildings project example: the Trame d’ombra building by a3e design firm
Descriptive architectural report
The area is located near the historic center of Itri in Italy, and surrounded by residential apartment buildings of three/four floors above ground.
The intervention is distinguished by the reinterpretation of the building in a classic line, with four flats per floor, a main body reduced to 7.5m capable of accommodating a gallery on each floor per unit.
The façade systems differ according to the exposure and the contribution required for indoor air conditioning:
- to the south-east a screening system surrounds the gallery and is characterized by a bamboo brise-soleil, able to filter light for the living area while providing freedom and lightness to the façade;
- to the north-west, the system opposes a full solid protective wall working as a shield to the most unfavorable exposure direction.
The ground floor is equipped with different types of accommodation similar to the upper floors, but enriched by large gardens easily accessible to the disabled.
The roofing plan is a collective solarium, with a floating wooden floor carved out of small green craters for relaxation and free time, from which to enjoy the panoramic view towards the castle.
The solarium is protected by a cantilevered metal roof and covered by solar PV panels.
The two front facing walls define a volume that appears suspended, distinct from the ground floor, compact and full of shading elements for extra added visual harmony.
Type and distribution choices
The building as a whole consists of:
- 6 units of 64 m2,
- 4 units of 74 m2
- 5 of 45 m2.
Each apartment has a similar distribution scheme for three floors, with 1 type of 74m², 2 of 64m² and 1 of 45m² on each floor, served by two staircases with a lift from which it is possible to directly access the balconies.
Only the ground floor has a distributional variation, with 3 floor apartments and two pass-through entrances.
Each apartment has a width of 7.5 m, with a living area of about 25m² for all types and the sleeping area which contracts or expands according to the size of the accommodation.
The living area extends from one side of the building to the other, and continues towards the outside gallery. The kitchen, overlooking the balcony, hinges between the living area and the sleeping area and is aligned with the bathroom block and the cavities column.
The sleeping areas are oriented NE-SW with an illumination surface ratio of 0.4 on average and an advantageous air response due to the slenderness of the building.