It is nice to have a townhouse with a wrapped around terrace and large windows. Following is description of something like that, with modern twist.


Support Building, Tunnel and Shaft

People should live in a Main Building, while equipment supporting living in it should be in a separate building - Support Building. We should place in it equipment for heating and cooling, air conditioning, backup electricity generator, etc.

It is reasonable to join this Support Building with the garage. It should not be a door allowing passing from it into the garage, though, this is for fire safety reason. Then, it would be easy to provide heating and cooling for the garage, and, possibly, a “turntable” moved by a hydraulic motor driven from the Support Building using hydraulic transmission.

We should pass through the Support Building the majority of pipes and cables connecting the House to the town systems - this would make their management simpler. Sewer should be an exception, though. Access to town’s Sewer should be separate for the Main Building and for the Support Building.

To connect the Main Building and the Support Building, we should make a narrow Tunnel between them, where we should place pipes and cables on its walls. The tunnel should be sufficiently high, that one could walk, check, add and repair pipes and cables in it, as needed.

In the middle of the Townhouse we should make a vertical Shaft, as a continuation of the Tunnel, up to the roof, with a fire escape door, providing access to the roof.

The Tunnel and the Shaft should be main routes for pipes and cables between these buildings. Shaft could be also used to run cables and some pipes between floors of the Main Building.


Gravity Ventilation Systems

    The Main Building and the Support Building have to have own gravity ventilation systems. In the Main Building it should serve as an emergency backup system, but in the Support Building it should be the main ventilation system.



With integrated ventilation and air conditioning system, and backup gravity ventilation system, there is no need for windows, which could be opened. Windows which cannot be opened could be better insulated. This kind of windows should be chosen for the Main Building.


Enclosed Terrace

It makes sense to enclose the Terrace and have large almost floor-to-ceiling windows in it. Windows facing the street, or neighbors’ houses, should have opaque glass. These large windows should be composed of relatively small elements, which could be replaced, as needed.

They also should have some decorative features protecting glass inside the house, because windows are large and a lot of events happen in the Terrace. Windows on the first floor should have similar protective features also outside.


Second Floor Terrace

    In a two story building, it makes sense to have a second floor enclosed Terrace exactly above the first floor Terrace. Supportive columns could be used in the first floor Terrace, where needed.


Use of Terraces

    Terraces are perfect for entertaining guests, having family dinners, kids playing, and serving as studios for remote presentations and meetings.

    It is desirable to have many plants in pots there. Air Management System in the building should compensate for plants’ consumption of oxygen at night.


Circular Corridor

The Terrace wraps entire House on both floors. Between it and the Shaft should be a Circular Corridor (rectangular in plan), on each floor, one above the other.

Between the Terrace and the Circular Corridor is a Man Part of the building. It is divided into sets of rooms with some supporting facilities as toilet, kitchenette, bath, shower, etc. in each such set. Doors of these sets of rooms are opening into the Circular Corridor.

The Main Part of the House has no access to any external wall of the House; it shares the wall with the Terrace and this where all its windows are. Windows of the rooms of the Main Part look into the Terrace, hence they should be large. Since plants in pots could be placed in the Terrace, which could deplete level of oxygen there at night, windows of the Main Part should not be possible to open.

Between the Circular Corridor and the Shaft is Support Part of the building, in it should have large kitchens on both floors, exercise rooms, hobby rooms with relevant equipment, storage rooms, swimming pool on the first floor, etc.

Rooms of the Support Part do not have windows. Doors of these rooms open into the Circular Corridor and they are easily accessible from the rooms of the Main Part on the same floor.


Entrance Door and Straight Corridor

    In the middle of one side of the building there is an Entrance Door on the first floor. Straight Corridor goes from the Entrance Door to the Circular Corridor and joins it, and these two corridors form one corridor.

    The Straight Corridor on the second floor matches corridor on the first floor, only there is no Entrance Door there.

    In the Straight Corridor, there are two large doors leading into the Terrace – one to the left and another to the right from the Entrance, one facing the other. This configuration is repeated on the second floor.


    There are two Staircases, one, where the Straight Corridor meets the Circular Corridor, and another on the opposite side of the Circular Corridor; two – in case of fire.

Both reach to the roof, where fire escape doors provide access to the roof.


Fire Escape Routes

    In the case of fire, some windows on the first floor of the Main Part and the Terrace could be broken to provide escape. From the second floor, one needs to reach the first floor using one of the Staircases.

    An alternative rout: first, to the roof and from there on lowered down fire escape ladder.



In some cases, it is desirable to have an elevator in the building. An Elevator could be installed in the Straight Corridor, for example next to the Staircase. When the building has two floors, a hydraulic elevator could be used. Its cylinder could be driven using hydraulic transmission and a pump in the Support Building.

If the building is higher than two stories high, a traditional elevator should be used instead. 


Property Entrance

The combination of the Support Building and the garage has to have a garage door facing the street and two doors on the side. The Entrance Door of the main building should face this combined building and its two side doors. It makes sense to cover a walkway between these buildings with a roof, possibly, on columns.

A door in the fence surrounding the property, where buildings are located, should face this roofed walkway, and second walkway should connect this door and the first walkway. It is desirable to cover this second walkway with a roof also, connecting both roofs.


Floor Plan

    The Floor Plan of each of two floors of the building consists of 5 concentric areas and the Straight Corridor.

Moving from outside in:

1) Terrace is around the building, and it is interrupted with a Straight Corridor; it has two large facing each other doors opening into the Straight Corridor;

2) Main Part is inside the Terrace and it is accessible from the Straight Corridor through the Circular Corridor; it is divided into compartments, each with a few rooms, toilet, bath, small kitchen, etc;

3) Circular Corridor is inside the Main Part and it is accessible from the Straight Corridor; two Staircases, are in the Circular Corridor, one is located, where the Circular Corridor meets the Straight Corridor, and the other - on the opposite side of the Circular Corridor;

4) Support Part is inside the Circular Corridor; large kitchens, storage, hobby and workout rooms, guest sink and toilet, are in this Part;

5) Shaft goes in the center of these concentric circles of Terrace, Main Part, Circular Corridor and Support Part; cables and pipes go through it and from it they branch to serve each floor separately; there are ladders in it for maintenance and fire escape.

    When one is inside the building, Straight Corridor provides access to the Terrace. Entrance Door opens into the Straight Corridor.


Attic and Basement

    Such building does need rudimentary low height Attic and Basement - to reduce heat exchange between the building and environment and to provide space for networks of pipes of Air Management System (see article “Air Management”).

    Attic or Basement should not be used for storage - this could become fire hazard. There are storage rooms in the Service Part of the building.

The Tunnel between the Main Building and the Support Building should go under the Basement.

    Pipes and cables connecting infrastructure in the Basement and in the Support Building or Main Building, should go through the walls of the Shaft. Particularly, the pipe used for water removal from the Pool, should go through the wall of the Shaft.


Trees and a Small Pool

    It makes sense to plant in backyard pleasant trees: decorative, fragrant, etc. They need birds eating insects – singing birds. Trees and birds need water. Hence, rain water from the roof should be collected in a Small Pool; this provides water to trees and attracts singing birds. In addition, this reduces pressure on town’s sewer.


Construction Materials

    Such building does not need walls to be permeable to air, because it uses integrated air conditioning system. Hence, less expensive materials, particularly reinforced concrete, and prefabricated elements made with it could be used.


Air Management

    It is natural to install in such building an Air Management System, particularly a system, which allows fine control of temperature and control of level of oxygen in every room of the building separately, including both Terraces. This way, it would be possible to keep plenty of plants in pots in Terraces without wary that they could cause serious reduction of oxygen level in the bedrooms at night. Such system is described in “Air Management” article on this site.

    The design of the building dictates specific installation of radiators and openings of the air supply pipes. They should not be placed on outer walls of Terraces. Instead they should be placed above windows (cold water, cold air) and below windows (warm water, warm air), windows, which are in walls separating the Main Part and Terraces; air removal openings in Terraces should be on outer walls, though (see “Air Management” article).

    The Terraces act as heat transfer inhibitor. Temperature in them should be maintained between temperature of the air outside the building and temperature of the air inside the Main Part of the building. This feels natural and it leads to reduction of air-conditioning cost.

    All heating, cooling and pumping should be done in the Support Building. Air intake should be on the roof of the Main Building and it should go into the Support Building.

    Only one chimney is needed and it should be with the Support Building.

Alexander Liss 7/16/2020