Apartment building types: Basic forms Print

While many apartment buildings are a mix or hybrid of types, three of the most often-used basic building forms are:  
  • The Block 
  • The Tower  
  • The Courtyard

The Block
A block apartment type is usually wider than it is tall. The apartments are arranged off a corridor which can be single, or double-loaded. 

This type of building is best used:  
  • to create or continue a perimeter block development. Individual block buildings can contribute to a wider perimeter block development when they are built up to the street
  • when the placement of the building will not block views, outlook or daylight access for adjacent sites 
  • when a strong urban form is desired, such as defining the edge of a street 
  • in town centre areas where apartments are located above retail or commercial uses
  • on wide sites with good frontage to a street or open space. Problems can occur when this type is used on narrow sites with limited road frontage as it can lead to overlooking problems with neighbours.  Ensure that buildings relate well to the street, and that there is a separation from neighbours and buildings within the site to protect privacy and achieve good sunlight admission.


The Tower

A tower apartment building has a vertical form and is generally free standing, and often has slimmer, more elegant proportions. This building type generally has a single centralised core and a limited number of apartments per floor.

The tower may have a base of two or more floors which can be arranged as a podium.

The roof of the podium can be landscaped and used as open space for the apartment residents.

A tower form, if well designed, can increase outdoor space on the site, maximizing the permeable area, and can increase levels of solar access and ventilation.

The (taller) tower apartment type is best used when:

  • the existing context has taller buildings, such as a central business district or town centre
  • a strategy suggests or promotes the use of taller buildings such as towers 
  • the building is also a landmark, such as to signal a town centre
  • mixed use is desired. Lower levels are generally suited to retail, commercial or community uses 
  • site constraints, such as trees, or slope, mean a good outcome is to minimise the building footprint
  • a taller, thinner building would allow better views around the building than a lower wider one.


Courtyard Apartments

A courtyard apartment building provides the ‘sides’ that enclose one or more open spaces (courtyards) on the site. The open spaces are generally communal and should provide a high quality landscaped environment and outlook.

Depending on the size and orientation of the courtyard, the height of the building form may need to be limited to ensure adequate daylight access to the enclosed open space and the apartments.

This building type is best used when: 
  •  the courtyard form can be oriented to ensure good sun and light access, and is wide enough to maintain a good standard of privacy
  • the site is large enough to accommodate a courtyard building where the different sides of the courtyard are likely to face on to each other  
  • the site lends itself to an interior space or spaces surrounded by built form
  • the building fronts onto a street, even a busy one, but there is adequate space to provide a courtyard behind the street frontage the site is a corner site, a wide shallow site or a site with two or more frontages which require built definition with open space behind
  • the site is a corner site, a wide shallow site or a site with two or more frontages which require built definition with open space behind there will be adequate building separation between the site and any adjacent development.

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