Models for Low-Rise Multi-Family Housing: Europe

Not too long ago we threw a few tomatoes at the townhouse model that has proliferated in the northwest.  It felt good to get a few things off our chest, and after any good rant we felt compelled to get back in the game, scratch our heads a bit and figure out how to get the ship back on course.  As a first step we’re assembling a list of good examples for low-rise multi-family housing projects.  Our buddy Mike, BUILDblog fan and frequent commenter, took the ball and ran with it – he came up with today’s roster which covers some great examples of low-rise, multi-family housing in Europe.  Thanks for the hard work Mike.  We’ll follow up in a few days with a U.S. version that brings it all back home.

Carabanchel Housing by FOA in Madrid, Spain

[photo by Francisco Andeyro Garcia & Alehjandro Garcia Gonazalez, Sergio Padura]

Koenigsweg Atelierhaus by Becher Rottkamp in Berlin

[photo courtesy of Becher Rottkamp]

Lansdowne Apartments by John Pawson in the United Kingdom

[photo courtesy of John Pawson]

Neudorfstraße Oelzbuendt Dornbirn by Hermann Kaufmann in Germany

[photo courtesy of Hermann Kaufmann]

Ölzbündt Dornbirn by Hermann Kaufmann in Germany

[photo courtesy of Hermann Kaufmann]

Peabody Housing by Niall Mclaughlin in London

[photo courtesy of Niall Mclaughlin]

Schots 1&2, by s333 in Groningen, Netherlands

[photo courtesy of S333]

Seewurfel Residential Complex by Camenzind Evolution in Switzerland

[photo courtesy of Camenzind Evolution]

Temistocles 12 by JSa in Polanco, Spain

[photo by Paul Rivera & Mariana Ugalde]

Tietgen Kollegiet by Lundgaard and Tranberg in Denmark

[photo courtesy of]

VM House by BIG in Copenhagen

[photo courtesy of BIG)

Wohnhaus Kaiserstrasse by Gerner Gerner Plus

[photo by Manfred Seidel)

Wimbergergasse Town Houses by Delugan & Meissl

[photo courtesy of Delugan & Meissl)

Wohnanlage Muehlweg by Hermann Kaufman

[photo courtesy of Hermann Kaufmann)

Lohbach by Baumshlager & Eberle in  Innsbruck, Austria

[photo courtesy of


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

uh, thanks for the shout out!

so in response to your earlier thread (townhomes suck!) do you think it’ll be possible to have projects of that caliber in seattle? or are we doomed to have a single family home/high rise condo city? is there any middle ground? the few midrise projects i’ve seen have left a lot to be desired.

well, except for a few johnston projects and your
park modern…

Comment by mike

The gap between the European model and our situation here in Seattle is so wide that, in my opinion, it will only be the freak accidents that achieve this level of design. So for me the question becomes: how do we foster more freak accidents? As discouraging as the real estate market is in Seattle, I think the slow market could actually promote more opportunities for excellent low-rise, multi-family projects. An October 10th article in the Wall Street Journal titled “House Designers Don Hard Hats” explained that the number of design-build firms registering with the AIA has nearly tripled in the last five years. The combination of more architects getting into the construction business along with deflated land prices and an over-saturated market of cheap, dumb town-homes might be the right catalyst. So round up that group of like-minded design savvy individuals who want to invest in their next home and get ready to pounce on a parcel of land as values hit rock bottom.

Generally I think that Seattleites are getting wise to crummy design and are beginning to expect a higher standard of architecture – once people start voting for better design with how they spend their money that will raise the overall level of architecture in Seattle (and not just the freak accidents).

Comment by buildllc

We live in a society of convenience and amnesia. If I’m Joe home-buyer the crappy town homes and condos are the path of least resistance for me to purchase. And I’ve already forgotten that the building’s envelope failed years ago and was replaced with the same cheap system.

Comment by Keyser

nice list!
MVRDV has some jaw-dropping projects, also check this book I found while perusing in Barnes & Noble:

Comment by Adam Crain

Adam – the “New Apartment” book looks slick. It will look slicker on my coffee table. thanks for the tip.

Comment by buildllc

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