Sunday, October 30, 2016

6.1 A Small Site in Merlimau

I’m often asked: “what’s the smallest piece of land that you need to be able to put in a Honeycomb layout. The answer is very small indeed.

The site is located in Taman Debunga, just at the edge of Merlimau, a small town in Melaka (figure 1).

Figure 1 Location

Triangular in shape, just about 1.3 acres, it is bounded by the back of a row of terrace houses on one side and high-tension pylons on another side. One enters from the third side which faced shops and terrace houses.

Figure 2 Overall view

The client here was a local developer with more than 30 years of experience, but one which was faced with what they viewed as a stagnating market. Although their main products – terrace houses – were becoming more and more expensive, they were not confident that raising prices was an option. Buying power in the towns that they were building was weak and there were competing developers who appeared content with thin margins.

Figure 3 Site layout

The client sought us out to help them overcome this problem. They had this small left-over piece of triangular land where they could experiment with a Honeycomb layout. The triangular site proved ideal for courtyard housing. We placed the houses around a cul-de-sac road. Only a pair of houses was allowed direct access from the existing road fronting the shops.

Experimenting with Variety

We managed to squeeze 14 units into 1.31 acres of land: 84% of the development land is sellable; road takes up the rest making up only 14% of the land used (figures 2, 3)).

The density of the Semi Detached houses is almost 11 units per acre, the same as that usually achieved by terrace houses. Small in-fill projects like this can be very efficient if they are able to piggy back on existing infrastructure like electrical connection, water supply and sewer lines and treatment plants as well as amenities like open green areas.

There were two basic types of semi-detached houses – single and double storey (figures 4 - 7).

Figure 4 Double Storey Semi Detach House

Figure 5 Double storey semi-detach house plans

Figure 6 Single-storey semi-detach house

Figure 7 Single-storey semi-detach house plans

Some of the double storey units were attached to double storey ones, but a few were attached to single storey ones, creating an interesting up and down roof-line (figures 8, 9).

Figure 8 Single and double-storey semi-detach house 
Figure 9 Single and double-storey semi-detach house
There were also variations in the position of the car porches, adding another level of complexity. Given the irregularity of the site, we could justify introducing a large variety of house-types in order to maximize the number of units.

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