In most cities, including mine, land is scarce, and we have to learn to live close, very close, to each other.

This very nice example of the architecture of togetherness is a three-level urban townhouse design by Sweden architecture firm Elding Oscarson. It seems to fit in nicely with the older neighbours.

It takes a lot of design thinking to do this well. You want to fit in, nicely, and yet have the feeling of being in a place of your own. This little office is across the small yard at the back.

I think I could live here happily, very close to my neighbours, but still apart. From here.

The Japanese have lived close to one another for a long time. Their architects have responded beautifully.

The above townhouse is the work of Ikuyo Nakama.

The little yard is open and sunny, but sheltered. From here.

Now to Berlin.

British architect David Chipperfield did this little beaut in Germany’s most fabled and fashionable city.

Yes that’s nice too.

David Chipperfield does a nice job of most things, so I’m not surprised this is a peach. Images from here.

The above are all unitary residences, custom dwellings for one, two, or more. Other ways of living close together involve sharing a group of living units designed as a unified structure or set of structures. In my town, the most popular option is the high-rise condominium tower, where people live one on top of the other, until you get to the TOP.

The more congenial, neighborly solution, is the townhouse complex, where everyone has their own personal access, and a little piece of earth to cultivate, if they wish. It does take more land, but the benefits are, I think, considerable.

This above is in LA, specifically West Hollywood. It is the work of Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects and is called Gardner 1050, a 10 unit project.

Here’s the shared courtyard space at Gardner 1050. From here.

Still on the West Coast of the US, an award winner for affordable housing

Above, K Lofts in San Diego, winner of an award for Excellence in Affordable Housing by the US agency HUD (Housing and Urban Development). The architect is Jonathan Segal. K is a nine-unit loft building on a 9,000-square-foot urban property in downtown San Diego, a mixture of very low income, affordable, and market rate rental units with each unit containing large private outdoor spaces and oversize glazing. Nice going Jonathan. From here.

Previous generations of urban dwellers also had a shortage of good space, and many lived in townhouses connected side by side in rows i.e. row houses or terraces (England)

Clapham, near London.

London, itself.


Amsterdam, right on the canal.

The 2 above from loving living small. More examples from England here.

If TWO is your magic number, consider the Duplex:

This above is a more recent TWO some, the Quarry Street Duplex, Robert Hillier, FAIA Princeton, NJ. Found here

And back to Japan for a duplex house with court in Tokyo. It was designed by K+S Architects / Nobuya Kashima + Aya Sato. See here

But there are other ways to live together. The LA Dingbat is one I like a lot:

In the La Brea area of Los Angeles.

Another LA dingbat. Both above from here

Of course people will find there own way to live together, whether an architect is around or not. This from here. But I think these people must have been inspired by Habitat, in Montreal, by Moshe Safdie, still a supreme example of the architecture of togetherness.

Built in 1967. More from apartment therapy.