Saturday, September 03, 2016

Stacked Townhomes - a second Philadelphia precedent

To follow up on the last Stacked Townhome precedent study today we look at another infill project in the same neighborhood of Philadelphia - Hawthorne. This example is a more representative example of a stacked townhouse because unlike the first one which was a flat under a two story unit, this example consists of two units that are 1 story + 1/2 floor. This configuration is more consistent with the contemporary model of Stacked Townhomes.

If you go back to my first post on this design study you can see a sketch of this configuration. There is typically a ground floor entry, one door for each unit, with one unit on the ground floor and half the second floor; and the second unit on half the second floor and the entire third floor. In this case the setting is urban, and the ground floor unit has a small rear yard, and the upper unit only a small balcony. On this site the rest of the lot depth back to the alleyway is dedicated to a shared parking lot.

I do not have the floor plans of these houses, but to illustrate how this unit organization can lay out I’ve sketched out a hypothetical floor plan in this arrangement. 

One characteristic of these which is a clear step forward from the last example is two independent front doors. There is no common vestibule here and for both units their front door opens right on to the public way much like a single townhouse. However in this case the two doors are directly beside one another. In more contemporary examples the doors would be placed remotely from one another, more for the sake of suggesting you are living in a single house. Or at least in order to not confront the owner on a daily basis with their co-owner’s front door. They don’t want to remind you that you are “sharing” this house, so you can maintain your illusion that you have a great big row house!

This transparent massing model begins to show you how the spaces become interlocked as we strive to provide access to each unit. A staircase from the street level must cut through the lower unit to reach the second floor level of the upper unit. Similarly the lower unit’s stair to the second floor cuts through the upper units space to provide access to the second floor bedrooms. This is just the start of the spacial gymnastics that will ensue as we look at units that are striving to provide connections to attached and internal garages. You will see the next units we look at start to fit together like Chinese puzzles.

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