Think quality, not quantity
Narrow frontage, good depth. See how a professional looks at such a site for the best outcome in terms of design and practicality.
SPACE SENSE: The benefit from smaller quality areas is incomparable with large inconvenient dingy spaces.
Your site has a narrow frontage, but good depth. Designing a residence on such a plot undoubtedly poses a host of problems. Particularly in terms of circulation, natural lighting and ventilation.
Nevertheless, it's the kind of challenge any creative designer seeks. At the outset, imagine what happens if the site is situated in a continuous building zone. Isn't all the natural light and ventilation blocked out from either sides of the plot?
Apart from the basic ventilation and lighting, the building also must have some aesthetic character to it. So how does one go about achieving this?
It is easy to give up considering the constraints the site poses. But if one's intention is to achieve quality space rather than letting the built-up space occupy the entire space, then some interesting solutions are possible.
Let us go through a few important points to be considered in dealing with narrow sites:
Leave good frontage. Do not start the building right on the street.
If one is forced to start on the street line because of the space constraints, provide car porch or entrance lobby immediately. This will act as a buffer zone between the main building and the street in terms of privacy, noise and dust pollution to a certain extent.
Do not put up any structure above the ground floor space close to the street. Leave it as a terrace or have a sloped roof. This will help maintain the scale of the building, especially when the streets are narrow.
Do not provide balconies close to the street. This will give a feeling of a street house. Exclusivity will be lost in the process.
Try to leave at least 3 ft. on one side of the building. It will help not only to improve the lighting and ventilation, but also provide better circulation and direct access to service area at the back.
Side open space also will help to provide the service lines like sanitary, plumbing, rainwater harvesting and cable properly.
Instead of small OTS (open to sky) areas, provide sufficient sizes of multiple courtyards.
Multiple smaller courtyards provide an excellent natural ventilation system to keep the inner temperature reduced considerably.
Multiple smaller courtyards are ideal and flexible in terms of present culture and lifestyle compared to a large single courtyard of olden days.
These courtyards will act not only as the extension of the adjacent rooms, but also serve as a multi- purpose space.
Grilles or concrete/stone/wood will help to make the courtyard secure.
Inner courtyards bring lots of diffused light cutting down harsh sunlight. One can enjoy soft and even sunlight throughout the house.
Inner smaller courtyards could help avoid monotonous feeling of corridors that link the various units of the house.
Create volumetric link between ground and first floor. This will open up the tightness and linearity of the internal space.
Many air vents at the roof will help the hot air to escape, thus reducing the inner temperature considerably.
Having covered terraces, opening towards the courtyards will make the house look spacious and open. Covered open terraces are also excellent multi-purpose areas.
Combination of both overlapping of spaces and corridor links will create very interesting interlink between the units.
Do not think building every space available in the site will enhance the usage and value of the house. In a long run, the benefit out of smaller quality space is incomparable with large inconvenient dingy space.
Be it a small apartment, or building at the narrow site, or huge palatial bungalow or informal farmhouse, go for the `quality' space definitely not quantity.
(The author is the chief architect of Vivek and Associates, Interior Designers, Chennai)
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