Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Especially when you are dealing with a narrow plot of land/house.
“We tend to make the problems or constraints part of the solution. It's the way we work.”
- Broderick Ely of b.e.Architecture
Whether you are erecting a new house on a project site that is narrow in width or you are handling a renovation project of a narrow landed property...
Below are some tips that you can take into account in your design process:
1. If you cannot Go Wide, you have to Go Up!
To create a feeling of spaciousness, you will need to unlock the restricted volume of the house vertically. For example, instead of sticking to the existing two-storey house, you might want to add another floor - provided that the height of the house still allows you to do that without compromising your headroom clearance. As you divide the space into different levels, you might want to consider creating a slightly higher ceiling of approximately 3 metres for the living spaces, than for the bedrooms.
2. Creating void spaces within the house.
Don’t just go vertical; you need to consider adding some void spaces here and there within the house. The void spaces created on the different levels of the house will add a visual feeling of vertical space within the house. Yes, you see it with your own eyes!
3. Bringing in as much light as possible to the space.
Constructing rear roof windows and glazed full-length doors/windows will attract natural light to enter the space. Together with the created void spaces within the house, light can penetrate well into the interior.
4. Avoid having solid and continuous walls within the space.
Open up your space as much as possible! Instead of designing a solid wall to separate the different areas within the house, you can construct custom-made joinery to act as the wall. Having custom-made joineries maximize the spaces in the house and eliminate the need to furnish the house with freestanding pieces. This will free up the space even more!
5. Opt for dual-function design!
To maximize the space further, you might want to implement a dual function design into your carpentry and joinery. For example, constructing an elevated window ledge that doubles as seating will reduce loose furniture usage in the house. This will be up to your own creativity!
6. Eliminate corridors where possible.
A project site with approximately 5 metres in width should avoid creating corridors while doing space planning. If the existing site already has corridors, it will be better to remove them and go with an open concept design.
7. Additional features to be considered...
You will definitely need to build a staircase if you are doing points 1 and 2 above. To make your small space look spacious, you might want to reconsider having a very bulky staircase within the house. One possible way is to make your staircase transparent as possible by using a solid stainless steel handrail and steel wiring.
Adding a pond into the house’s terrace/garden
When you have a narrow site, planting greeneries alone in the house’s backyard/terrace will still make you feel very much enclosed. It will be less confined when you add a pond into the garden as it will create an important vista on a narrow site.
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Making the most of small spaces by Stephen Crafti