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Unpacking the townhouse typology
Stephen McGrath
29th January 2020

As part of Broadway Malyan’s ongoing analysis of residential typology designs and our commitment to innovating in this area, we are currently looking at reinterpreting the townhouse.

In Britain, townhouses came to prominence most notably during the Georgian period. They were in fact the primary building type in most parts of London and other main British cities such as Glasgow and Bath. Townhouses were arranged in terraces, mostly around city squares, but also as closely placed detached and semi-detached units.

It is not just cities that are seeking to increase in density to meet housing requirements, but our regional centres and villages too. In the not too distant future, houses are likely to be required to provide more complex and flexible accommodation to meet the needs of individuals, families and groups often with differing ages and tenures. The townhouse typology could provide possible solutions as designers, developers and the public progress through the 2020s onwards. In cities, brownfield sites need to be unlocked, especially in the city edge zones.

Broadway Malyan’s conceptual townhouse is designed around the specific needs of the user. The multi-level house contains a flexible layout that is orchestrated by maximising natural light, free flow circulation and the needs for privacy and gathering spaces.

The townhouse of the future could have smaller gardens at ground levels, but larger terraces at roof levels. This would allow for higher densities while still retaining privacy. The public square of the past is reinterpreted as the communal space of the future, fostering a sense of community, sharing, play and belonging.

The forms, shapes and components of the townhouse are rectilinear, directly reflecting the processes and dimensions of manufacture and transport. Zero carbon is to become the norm and not the exception, therefore these houses must be designed around optimised, clean construction processes. Lightweight mycelium partitions and insulation will serve to complement the Passivhaus performance.

Is this the flat-pack townhouse of the future?