Suggested resident categories, and apartment designs

Dual-use buildings

AirBnB hotel + permanent residents: (For single people (or even couples) who do not mind hosting  paying-‘guests’ to offset the rent): a combined hotel/residential building, with each apartment specially-designed to accommodate an airBnB guest in the apartment without disturbing the permanent resident. As in a standard hotel, an office on the ground floor handles all aspects related to the guests, in this case not just handling payment, security, keys, laundry, cleaning etc, but also soliciting guests and matching them to appropriate hosts.

Design: The front door of each apartment opens to a small space appropriate to the guest, which the resident walks through to access their private space. The guest space contains a niche for a couch-bed and a small guest-bathroom, and a metal grate which can be drawn to separate the guest-space from the resident’s area – both for security at night, and to make it inaccessible to the ‘guest’ while the resident is away.

Video-protection can be built-in, activated by default in the guest area in case of emergency, and whenever the resident leaves home and has a guest, the resident can choose to activate it in their section as well, and watch on their phone whenever they wish.

The office will arrange cleaning, provide linen etc, collect the payment, and then deduct the resident’s share from their monthly rent/upkeep payment.

A website for the building can be linked to elements of a residents’ FB profile if they wish, to interact with prospective ‘guests’ via FB in order to match guests to appropriate residents.

Separate basement-area common-rooms can be created for the residents and for the ‘guests’; separate or joint use of laundry, gym; etc.

In order to construct the building, investors can be sought to provide some of the costs up front in return for a share of the proceeds, with an appropriate commitment from residents as to the percentage of time they will be open to having guests. Alternatively, prospective permanent residents can form a purchase-group to create the building using their combined financing, and end up with that investment returned to them over the years, effectively leading to free rent.

The home-office building: The front door of each apartment opens to a small office-space appropriate for meeting clients; a lockable door at the back of the office leads to the rest of the apartment, the resident’s private space, with a window. 1. for individuals working from a home-office and needing to meet clients in a professional setting; 2. employees of companies allowing their workers to ‘telecommute’ (work from home) but who need to be in a professional-looking environment; 3. For residents who leave their apartment for work 9-5 pm, and can rent out the office-space.

Optional: separate entrances to the building for clients and residents, with information and security desk at the client-entrance.

The basement can have conference rooms available to residents for specified periods.

Residents can use the building website to collaborate where relevant (office-supply purchases etc).

Apartment-office combinations can perhaps be designed to have the relevant space qualify as a legitimate tax-deductible business-office.

Day/night commercial-residential time-sharing: in the reverse of the above, a commercial building with suitably-designed units, office space used by a company 9-5 on weekdays becomes living space for people who are away all day on weekdays. The building’s website arranges appropriate matches for companies and residents according to schedules and space-needs, and an office arranges for cleaning, security, rent-collection etc.  Each unit is equipped with separate locked closet/shelving etc, and office-couch/sleeping-bed.

Similarly for ground-floor stores which become bars and restaurants etc at night.

Alternate uses for the dual home/office building:

  1. “Start-up village”: for a company whose workers can work partly from home, or an established company relocating, perhaps opening a branch overseas. Designed and built as a wired home/business environment for the company and its employees. For small cost-conscious companies: so that they need not pay rent for both home and office (since a major part of a salary goes for housing, the company and employees save a lot in cutting out the middle-man); for large companies opening a branch, employees conveniently re-locate as a group. The main office site for collaborative work and for meetings with clients and investors would be a nicely-designed business-appropriate common-area (in the basement, or ground floor, penthouse/rooftop or even mid-building); containing screens showing the individual employees, who are generally located in their main individual work-space, namely their apartment.
  2. Modern version of the old Soviet industry-towns: The major concerns of families are housing, schooling, employment and medical care, and the more of these that a community can provide for itself, the more flexible it can be about location to benefit from cheaper land and higher quality of life. Since the most difficult to guarantee is employment, it may be that companies can best catalyze the creation of a community for their employees. Municipalities seeking expansion can work together with large employees to provide the framework for the creation of a community.

Elderly + night-companion: many people want someone there at night and would like to offer free or subsidized rent to the appropriate person. A building can be designed with separate common rooms for socializing for the elderly and for their companion-tenant. The apartments would be designed with some degree of shared facilities. An office in the building would take care of soliciting the companion-tenants, who could be ‘shared’ as needed, arranging all payments in either direction, insurance issues etc.

Single parent + child: design a space in the building for on-premises group-child-care and nursery/kindergarten.  Also: for single parents of a special-needs child, who can cooperatively provide some supervision in a specially-designed safe environment, for example a specially-designed playground on-site. Units can be created specifically to provide free or subsidized housing for the childcare staff and caregivers.

Elderly widowed-parent + single adult-child: apartments will be designed with this population in mind, with some degree of separation of facilities. The building would have separate common-rooms in basement and penthouse for the two populations, with exercise equipment, home-theater/entertainment center, and other population-appropriate facilities; 24/7 nurse and other emergency assistance; office to handle all social security, medicare, elder-care applications/billing/payments etc issues; care-takers or special attention for the elderly-parent when their child is away for short or extended periods. Adult children with parents who need their attention can collaborate to form ‘communities’ of similar type populations, and collectively contract via the site with the appropriate service-providers to arrange everything from sale of homes and moving/discarding of possessions to compassionate companions to offer support during the relocation process for those elderly who find the move difficult.

Specialized design buildings, some being a type of dual use

Pet-owners: Combined residential building + pet-home: design a building with roof-top roaming area for your dog (and separately for cats), design the apartments with raised-platform-walk area (like a jogging-track) for your cat or dog; secure roaming on a special stairwell for the pets (who wear locaters on their collar), to be able to access the roof and ground from your apartment; in-house facilities and care for pets when the owner is away, etc. To generate  income for the residents, a section of the building can be earmarked as a hotel for people traveling with their pets.

Athletes, sports and exercise enthusiasts: Combined residential building + gym: To get up/downstairs, in addition to stairs and an elevator the building’s atrium has a climbing-wall/rapelling/bungee, blade-slide/spiral jogging ramp; perhaps even an atrium with indoor all-weather skiing; a rooftop sports-area designed for the sport-interests of the residents; deep pool with scuba (and specially-designed underwater habitat); etc. A section of the building can be earmarked for visiting groups and individuals, to generate  income for the residents and to provide a widening of the community.

Musicians: Combined residential building + sound studio and jam space: design a building with special sound-proofing, recording studios, jamming/performing areas etc. To generate  income for the residents, a section of the building can be earmarked as a hotel for musicians traveling in a band or individually who wish to rehears while on the trip, and to interact with local musicians. Performances for the general public can also be arranged in the building.

Prospective-emigrants: Combined residential building + cultural center: prior to leaving their home-country, a group of prospective emigrants can create a residential building which is basically also a community, with a space in the building designed for events related to their culture, a child-care center to enable residents to find work outside the home, and a support-network for absorption into the dominant culture in their adopted land.

Urban farmers: Combined residential building + urban green spaces: For a group desiring a type of communal rural life in a high-rise in the city:  cooperative ownership of agricultural area on the roof-top and ground alongside the building, with equipment, irrigation etc owned jointly. Municipalities offering appropriate incentives can work together with residents in design of the building and its associated surroundings.

Similarly for ‘green-buildings’ using solar panels installed on the sides and roof for electric use of the building, insulation  ……

Combination residence+school: families need to live close to schools appropriate for their kids, often necessitating long commutes to work and much driving to stores and other amenities. Instead of people needing to locate near schools, 100 families with similar schooling-needs can create their own building designed to house a school. The providers in this case are not just builders etc, but also educational institutions and private schools interested in providing services, teachers, municipal school-systems etc.

Retirement residence, all stages: Instead of looking to find a residence with some kindred spirits, and then perhaps needing to be moved from there eventually to another center for the elderly: in the years prior to retirement one can create a virtual community of like-minded people and then contract as a group to create a  specially  designed  amenable space  where one is co-owner rather than anonymous client, and the building is designed to provide for all stages, so that one need not move to other facilities.  A medical-clinic can be established in the building, personal-aide agencies, elderdesign firms etc. Various such ‘communities’ can also join together to offer occasional apartment-swapping to provide for vacations in other locations, and variety in general.

Retirement residence + ‘learning exchange’: Residents who are retired academics, artists, performers etc create programs, which are offered to the public; classes take place in the ground-floor and basement area. An office in the building handles all advertising, student solicitation, tuition fees etc. Residents can design these programs while the building is being constructed.

Organizations/Religious bodies/political groups

Veterans associations creating housing for newly-demobilizing soldiers; communal rooms like the barracks they are used to, to reduce rent. Communal dining room to reduce cost of food. With office on premises to handle all aspects of their transition to civilian life.

Near hospitals, schools and universities: teachers and medical worker unions can create spaces appropriate for their members. Medical workers can have time-shares based on their schedules. Teachers can arrange for renting out their spaces during summer vacation.

Accessible-building: parents of handicapped children can design the building, and the individual apartments for the needs of their child.




Very-small footprint “Corridor-apartments”(“railroad-flats”) designed and commissioned by the eventual tenants

 The cooperative nature of the building, and its special design based on the needs of the tenants can overcome the various issues which often make this type of apartment non-viable.

Firstly, since builders/developers charge as much as they can get, the small apartments they create are expensive (a tiny apartment which is 1/3 of a normal-sized apartment will be sold not for 1/3 but for 1/2, so that the total original apartment now costs 1.5 times the price). This also has the undesired effect of raising the effective prices of usual-sized apartments (in other words creating small spaces is another way for builders/developers to raise price/meter, thus raising apartment prices in general). In addition, often the small spaces are subdivided apartments, and the individual units so-created may lack a window, which is a fire-hazard and bad for mental health. For these reasons, local governments (zoning/health regulations) may not allow less than a specific minimum size for an apartment. Also, the subdivided tiny units are too small for most furniture and also have various wasted corner-areas etc created by the subdivision, and the units are generally too small for closets large enough to hold all of the tenant’s possessions.

However the nature of the proposed building overcomes all these issues. Since the building is built by the residents, the resulting units will only cost what they should – the outside-frame cost will be the same as for a standard building, and any additional cost due to the additional walls etc (since there are more apartments than would be in a standard building) will be only as should be and no more, so that a unit 1/3 the size of a standard one will cost about 1/3, and there is no apartment price-raising effect. Each group can design the units as they wish, according to the needs of the members.

(Note: If there are municipal restrictions on creating small units, these can be overcome by special design arranging for some common space among a few neighbors to qualify the combination legally as one larger apartment. Also: lot-size and shape may constrain the configuration of windowed- units, but the group can choose the appropriate lot-size as determined by the unit-configurations).

A minimal choice can for example be the following: each unit is 2m wide, with a full-width (2m) window-balcony. The bed can be 1-m wide along a wall, or an in-built folding-bed (it can even be aligned under the window, folded into the wall when the balcony is to be accessed). There are many clever designs available (search ‘small-space design’ etc) to create lots of shelving, and kitchen and bathroom space.

Especially useful will be the basement, roof and outdoor-area. The basement would be designed with: a large area containing storage-locker-closets in a cheerily-lit secure area accessible 24/7 (for items not needed on a steady basis); a laundry room; a common-room with entertainment center and a general ‘living-room feel. The roof would be enclosed with mesh for safety and to allow for ball playing, would have lounge-chairs, and can accommodate bar-b-q’s etc. The area alongside the building can be carefully designed, with benches attached to the building-wall, facing a small garden ringing the building, and the whole region protected by a rain-sun awning built-in to the building’s side (retractable in some regions to allow for sun-access if desired).


triplet apt schematic cropped

                                               Toilet area blocks only bottom 3’.

7’ x 19’ = 133 sq ft, just as 10’ x 13’4” = 133 sq ft. Of course 7’ x 19’ = 133 sq ft living space is 50% narrower than 10’ x 13’ (10 is about 50% more than 7), but if the total area is to remain the same (in other words for the product of the two dimensions to remain 133), the triplet will necessarily be 50% longer (20’ is 50% more than 13’4”).




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