The Happy Home



One footprint makes four homes: Creating a spacious home that works for four different layouts, from terrace to detached, on different sites across the country. The different configurations of the plan work well throughout life, from a growing family to old age.

We are embracing the concept of health and well being by solving the balance of privacy and sociability both within and between the homes. 

  • Division within the home separating sleeping and living spaces.
  • Giving the ground floor a close relationship to the garden whilst the first floor has longer views and a connection to shared spaces beyond.
  • Creating private and shared external spaces for people to enjoy being outside as they please.

The plan of the house is divided into social and private. The kitchen/dining and living spaces connect vertically on one side of the house, with the bedrooms on the other, separated by an additional sliding door, creating a lobby, which will help with noise breakout and visually privacy. This makes the house attractive for a number of buyers, from young professionals sharing to older families.

The kitchen/dining room leads onto a patio and back garden with access to one side. This creates the opportunity for a large fixed window and seat below, creating additional seating in the dining area and a space for planting outside, close to the window. 

The living space above is connected via on open stair, and benefits from long views over the street and beyond the garden to shared green spaces. From the curved window seat at the top of the staircase to the terrace at the rear, the living room feels a great deal larger than its standard size. The terrace on the first floor is large enough for a small table and two chairs.

We have carried out extensive research in our practice showing that shared external spaces that are well connected to homes are better used by residents and make the safest places for children to play. 

We propose a traditional street layout with a small, set back front garden and parallel parking. We have avoided garages within the footprint of the home as these are often used for storage and cause displacement parking. Additional garage space can be provided to one side of the home, with space for parking in front so that the pavement remains clear for pedestrians. We will be able to demonstrate that average suburban and urban densities and car parking numbers are met in stage two of the competition.


Design Qualities


Natural light

We have made best use of natural light and views with the dual aspect arrangement, window seats and roof lights. In section this brings a series of connecting views through the spaces and excellent overlooking of the street, rear garden and shared spaces. 


Space for living and storage

The room areas comply with the nationally described space standards but are arranged to create more efficient living space and generosity to the rooms. Our split living arrangement with kitchen/dining on the ground floor and living room on the first floor, is the key to this concept, and could be reconfigured to have the kitchen, dining and living spaces together on the ground floor depending on customer requirements. By including the staircase into the living room the plan becomes more efficient and the space more generous. Appropriate storage space is provided on both the ground and first floor as is adequate space to store bikes and bins.


Flexibility and Adaptability

Our building footprint can be reconfigured to suit all four of the customer types as follows:

Mature downsizer

We imagine the ground floor single bedroom used as a study, with the double bedroom a guest room. Should the need arise, the guest bedroom could be used as the main bedroom, with the bathroom converted to an accessible WC and shower. The single bedroom could be useful for a carer.

Older family

This period puts the most pressure on space and we imagine the ground floor bedrooms used by the older children. The bedroom lobby area can be separated from the living area with a sliding door to increase privacy and reduce noise between the living room and bedrooms. The ground floor bathroom could be a WC and shower.

Young family

During this period the family may choose to have the living spaces on the ground floor, with two double bedrooms above. The terrace might not be included, but access to the shared green spaces would be maintained through the garden. The single bedroom would be a useful guest or play room.

Young professionals

The layout makes it straightforward to share the house with a friend or couple. The living spaces split over two floors offer some degree of privacy. Again, separating the social spaces with sliding doors gives private access to the bathrooms as well as better noise separation.

Health and well being is at the centre of our concept. The layout provides space to retreat, to enjoy family life but also to connect with the community when it suits. The key to this is direct access to safe green spaces, free of the danger of cars. Young families will find it easier to make friends and settle into the community, and elderly people will find it easier to combat loneliness, as shared green spaces can offer a variety of uses, from taking a stroll, to allotments and small play areas. Our research shows that buyers are looking for safe places for their children to play as well as a high quality external environment to enjoy. 

The street is designed to overcome anti social parking, by allowing parallel parking on both sides of the road so that residents can park close to home, but not on pavements. Again our research shows that parking behaviour can have a significant negative impact on resident satisfaction and the use of external spaces. The set back front entrance provides a small front garden and gives a greater degree of privacy. We believe this layout provides the best environment for pedestrians and road users and will give somewhere for neighbours to stop for a short chat on their way to and from home.


Functional requirements


Plot efficiency

The plot size is approximately 124m2, which we think could achieve a suburban density of approximately 35dph. This includes the shared green spaces distributed across the scheme. It can work at higher densities too with terraced arrangements and reconfigured external spaces.


Adaptability to different design contexts

We have developed a simple footprint that can be adapted with different materials to create a variety of house styles within each scheme and on different sites. We are envisaging a brick base, timber frame upper floors with overlapping shingles for the cladding and the roof - the extent and decoration of these can be varied.

The one-footprint/four houses model allows the bedroom window and living room doors to be interchangeable whilst retaining the façade’s compositional qualities. Each scheme could be laid out with one or two car parking spaces per home by using a variety ofterraced, semi detached and detached homes.


Replicability and Scalability

The component parts of kitchen, bathroom, staircase and windows are standard types that can be easily manufactured locally, repeated and scaled up in volume across numerous sites. Our design aims for a simplicity in construction to gain maximum benefits; from the simple to constructing a seat tosit in the fixed window, we would aim to develop the design to offer clever solutions at no additional cost.


Technology and Construction


Suitability for high volume build

The house uses traditional and widely available construction techniques and materials that would be suitable for the high volume house builder across the UK.


A fabric first approach

We have designed the home with a solid base of brick, which we think could be exposed on the kitchen/dining wall to provide thermal mass and reduce temperature fluctuations. We have prevented potential cold bridging problems by avoiding projections, for example the balcony is over an insulated flat roof rather than fixed externally to the structure. Locating the living space on the first floor means better natural ventilation. The balcony will contribute to this, as the door will be opened frequently for access.


Responsiveness to future energy requirements in building regulations

The house layout is able to be adapted to suit low or zero carbon design:

  • Wall thickness and roof build up will be able achieve very low U values. We have allowed an overall zone of 350mm to achieve this.

  • There is space for PV cells on the pitched roofs.

  • The future riser located in the hallway will allow for future MVHR ducting to all rooms. This would also be available for comfort cooling which given climate change is attractive particularly for elderly households

  • The plasterboard lined ground floor and timber construction on upper floors can be made fully airtight.

  • All windows in deep reveals could be increased to triple glazing. 


Flexibility in build methodology

The simple layout means a variety of construction techniques could be used to make best use of the local supply chain. Off site construction could be explored with pre fabricated timber panels and/or modules such as full bathrooms. More traditional methods such as cavity brick walls would also be suitable.





ArchitectureZCD Architects