Building on Narrow Sites

Narrow sites bring with them a number of complex constraints, but can also lend themselves to some very exciting and unique design outcomes. To get the most out of your narrow block, given its complexities, you really need the expertise of a skilled architect.

Site orientation & surrounds

With any site it is important to consider the orientation and surrounding context, with a narrow site this is even more important. Land that runs east-west will provide the most opportunity to bring in sunlight and will allow you to maximise natural daylight throughout the day.

Of course the surrounding buildings can have an impact on what light your property will actually get, so have a look at the neighbouring building heights, setbacks and areas of overlooking into your property. It is recommended that you visit the property at different times of the day to get a good idea of the sun tracking and areas of shadow.

Outdoor Areas

Ideally you want to leave some land for outdoor entertaining, a play area for the children or just have a nice vegetable planter to look at. What joy to be able to slide open your beautiful glass doors and connect with the outside world, feel the breeze, smell the creepers on your boundary fence and listen to the birds sing. You don’t want to feel like you’re stuck in a box with nowhere to stretch your legs.

Slim House extension by alma-nac

Renovation in Toronto - Contrast House

Modern Sprial Staircase with feature swimming pool and tree

Façade

Designing the façade of a building is important on every site and with a narrow site, because you have less width to play with, you really want to make what you do count. One option to consider if you want onsite parking, instead of using up valuable real estate with a fully enclosed garage, is building the first floor out over the driveway to create a carport. Use transparency of materials and varying planes to create an interesting façade that will engage people visiting or just walking by. Be playful with scale. An oversized front door can look great or you could hide the front door by blending it into the façade.

Infill architecture

Residence by Griffin Enright Architects

The Shaft House designed by architect Reza Aliabadi

Prahran Narrow Bock Home

Light

Drawing light into the house with courtyards allows natural light into more shaded areas while also creating some lovely entertaining spaces or more of a private retreat if adjacent to a master bedroom.

Cramped Or Not, I Want To Live in These Tiny Japanese Houses

long narrow skylight, and glass internal door

internal garden

Invigorating Narrow House by Fujiwaramuro Architects

Skylights are great for narrow houses, integrating a narrow void down one side of the house can create some lovely shadow trails and add atmosphere. Another option to consider is using floor lights directly under if you want to walk over while still getting the light transfer. Open tread stairs will also let light spread to lower levels of the house. Atria can also be a great way to utilise light in circulation space and make more confined areas seem larger.

Wooden House CM by Bruno Vanbesien + Christophe Meersman

courtyards behind slatted metal walls

Clever way to let the light through in a tall, long, narrow building with few windows on the sides

House In Saka

Glazed curtain walls or large windows are a good solution to light concerns. Preferably, you want to locate them somewhere you can still maintain your own privacy while not creating overlooking issues with neighbours. Using an internal courtyard with large double height windows is a perfect combination, creating something visually stunning and flooding your interior space with light.

Prahran by Destination Living

CC House

Staircase from Prahran Project

Materials

When considering building materials it is important to realise that what you see is often just the surface. Some materials have a significantly larger depth in order to provide the required structure and insulation. On a narrow site you want to make the most of the space you have, so getting the structural support with the least impact on size is vital.

Steel structure is generally more expensive than masonry walls, but steel can offer more slender structure and provide larger openings for windows and doors that block or brick walls cannot, and in this instance it would be worth investing in more steel to gain extra floor space and light. Exposed steel can be an interesting and lovely design feature in a contemporary house. With evolutions in material and engineering concrete is another option that can provide some thin walls either in pre-cast panels or poured on site. Glass technology has become a science in itself, allowing for better heat control, larger panels, and the ability to use it under foot or even in swimming pools.

mais incriveis do mundo

Barcode House in Washington DC

Funky Staircase

Levels & Zones

Split levels are a great way to maximise volume and create zones for your house. Using mezzanines to maximise height and function within a single space will let light filter through and you can use either clear glass or electric glass that turns opaque for privacy when required.

Modern split levels

Modern Day Split level design

narrow house intoer design

Living Photos Split Level Design Ideas

Use of space

Consider locating bedrooms and utilities downstairs with the kitchen and living areas upstairs with a balcony or roof garden. This will utilise the daylight in the areas used throughout the day and in the evening you can enjoy the views while entertaining.

Modern Summer Roof Terrace

upstairs kitchen & dining

reverse living home design

East Village Rooftop Garden

To discuss your narrow block home project please contact us on 1300 637 837 us simply use our contact form here

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