Mid-Density Housing: A Study in the Possibilities of Dense and Urban Housing

Jukka Aaltonen

    Research output: Book/ReportMaster's thesis

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    This Master’s Thesis has been written as a part of a larger mid-density housing development project by Joint Authority of Tampere Central Region and School of Architecture at Tampere University of Technology consisting of both research and design. The design phase was performed during the autumn term 2011 as students participating in a particular housing design course made mid-density residential schemes to several actual sites in the Tampere Region. The main objectives of the research phase materialized in this publication have been to define the concept of mid-density housing and analyze suitable international housing examples, as well as to examine both the possibilities and challenges of innovative housing construction from the Finnish viewpoint in order to provide the basis for future development and planning decisions.

    The starting point for the need to develop mid-density housing has emerged due to the intercommunal structure plan of Tampere Central Region aiming for the defragmentation of urban structure by concentrating growth densely near public transport networks, such as future light-rail lines, rapid bus routes and emerging train station neighborhoods. According to the housing policy program of Tampere Central Region one eligible tool for urban densification and diversification of housing choices is to develop mid-density housing concepts and building typologies that are small-scale or flexibly combine different scales, but still achieve adequate land use efficiency.

    This research paper seeks to create both explicit quantitative and more subtle qualitative preconditions for guiding mid-density housing construction within the future context of densifying Tampere Central Region. The first chapter explores the thematic background of mid-density housing through some significant challenges facing our modern society, such as climate change and pluralization of lifestyles. As a result, single-family housing qualities, such as private open spaces integrated to spacious living rooms, enabling privacy, representation and flexibility within dense environment are defined as crucial features in developing mid-density housing concepts appealing to the so-called creative class professionals and middle-class families moving to the suburbs – both key target groups in advancing liveliness of urban housing areas.

    The second chapter conceptualizes mid-density housing by limiting the recommended building density between ek=0.45-0.7 (ek= gross area of buildings divided by area of quarter) and building height between 3-5 storeys. Thus, the character of mid-density housing environments is simply positioned between increasingly popular dense-lowrise housing (tæt-lav in Danish) and conventional apartment blocks. These recommendations considering density and building height are derived from the existing variation of housing areas within the contexts of Tampere region and Finland in general, while bearing in mind the importance of both human scale and economic viability. After the quantitative definitions focus is shifted towards private open spaces and privacy on the whole analyzed in light of environmental psychology studies dealing with perceived density. At the end of chapter two the urban design principles of the New Urbanism movement – urban spatial hierarchy, clearly articulated blocks and defined streetscapes – are presented as a viable model for mid-density design on the level of housing quarters. However, it is not advisable to hold on to neotraditional architectural style.

    The third chapter evaluates mid-density development potential by using the metaphore of station neighborhood to define mid-density housing areas as well accessible nodes of public transport and pedestrian flows. As a result, harmonic relationship with traffic environments by means of carefully designed noise-barrier houses, roadside buildings, innovative parking solutions and walkable streets, creating mixed functions with the help of integrated services, hybrid houses and communality, as well as flexible urban design management approach to solving spatial conflicts all appear together as a desirable toolkit for mid-density urban development. The final fourth chapter is an entity of its own consisting of 12 housing concepts reflecting the previously defined housing quality features in the form of practical design solutions, such as private open spaces seamlessly integrated to individual homes, open plan design similar to loft living or spatial zoning protecting inhabitants against the distractions of urban environment
    Translated title of the contributionMid-Density Housing: A Study in the Possibilities of Dense and Urban Housing
    Original languageFinnish
    PublisherTampereen teknillinen yliopisto. Arkkitehtuurin laitos
    Number of pages155
    ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-2758-6
    ISBN (Print)978-952-15-2757-9
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2012
    Publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis

    Publication series

    NameTampereen teknillinen yliopisto. Arkkitehtuurin laitos. Asuntosuunnittelu. Julkaisu
    ISSN (Print)2242-4598

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