Volodymyr Vasylyna's Website

My 5 principles for selecting a home

Living with an architect and interior designer, along with reading "Soft City" by David Sim revealed to me several important principles for finding and choosing urban housing. I want to carefully note them down. First, this will help put structure in my head when the time comes to select where to live. And secondly, maybe it will show some new useful point of view to those who like me are far from the topics of urbanism and housing design.

Important notes:

  • All these principles are subjective as they depend on preferences, lifestyle, age, marital status, the city itself, etc.
  • All these principles are not new, and for many people they will sound trivial, but I started thinking about these things only this year.
  • Following all the principles at the same time may not be realistic from a financial or any other point of view.

Principle 1. In the city, not in the nature reserve

Open territory, well-developed services, community based on familiarity and trust, space for walking without obstacles, accessibility.

The closed territory, which is offered by many developers in the residential complex format, has some advantages including well-kept space, no homeless people near you, etc. But it creates significant obstacles: in most cases, you can walk only within the complex, there is limited access for friends or couriers, the risks for critical services to arrive quickly, e.g. police or emergency. All this causes undeveloped and non-competitive commerce on the first floors, because often the opening of shops for goods and various services turns into an unprofitable business over time due to a limited number of visitors. Therefore, over time, businesses close, and the first floors of the buildings in the closed residential complex become empty.

Principle 2. Dense construction

Of course, greater density alone will not give a better life. There is no real benefit from the fact that we will live very densely.

The value of living in the city is closeness and mutual benefit. And the synthesis of density and diversity increases the likelihood that useful things, places and people will become closer. The attractiveness of a dense city:

  • Proximity: Proximity of buildings improves access to employers and employees, teachers and artisans, shops, schools and services right where and when they are needed.
  • Shared identity: belonging to a particular community that arises from the collective use of the same places and resources. This sense of belonging can be felt in people's pride in their city, in its landmarks and outstanding locals, in its parks and waterfronts, in its athletes and artists. A local identity is created, which is often stronger and possibly different than national, cultural or ethnic.
  • The potential for unexpected opportunities to arise. Big and small cities will become centers of spontaneous meetings and unexpected cool acquaintances.

Principle 3. Low buildings

The development around housing should provide density on a human scale, that is, have dimensions that will promote comfort and well-being. No higher than six stories, but ideally four or five.

Man evolved to walk, and his ability to interpret, interact with, and respond to the environment is greatest at eye level:

  • Smaller spaces bring people closer together and bring them closer to things. Good contact with the environment is enhanced when the environment is close to our sensory system, that is, so that we can see small details, distinguish minor sounds, smell smells.
  • A smaller building also provides a better microclimate in the intermediate spaces, gives a greater sense of security, as people have a comfortable view. It promotes coziness and sociability.
  • The urban environment should be attractive to all senses. The more opportunities there are to observe living phenomena, the better — to see other people going about their business, to look at the big sky, shadows and light, flowers, trees and birds.

Principle 4. Landscaping and greening, not desert

The building should provide the best conditions for green spaces and nature.

  • Vegetation provides an acoustic effect, absorbing and masking noise (and thus reducing stress) among the many walls and road surfaces of the city.
  • Vegetation can also reduce pollution by purifying the air by absorbing dangerous nanoparticles, which is extremely important given the frequency of respiratory diseases in cities.
  • Vegetation is also useful as a visual component, increasing privacy, reducing and mitigating wind gusts and providing protection from the strong summer sun.

Principle 5. High ceilings and thick walls for a decent life: climate control, sound insulation and aesthetics

  • Higher ceilings (3m or more) usually mean bigger windows and therefore more natural light. The sun can create a good atmosphere in the rooms and make the space warmer. Natural light has a positive psychological effect on the human mind and body.
  • High ceilings provide an optimal scale for the perception of space. Ceilings of 2.5 — 2.7 m visually oppress, put a person in some sort of a box.
  • Thick walls (0.5 m) help with sound insulation.
  • Warm air is lighter than cold, so the heat rise while the coolness remains below at the level of a person, so in the summer a moderate, more pleasant microclimate is created in a room with high ceilings and thick walls.
Thoughts? Leave a comment