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Tiny Townhomes – A “New” Building Type?

Atlanta’s re-surging in-town development has led to higher property values and inflated construction costs. Coupled together, these two factors cause concern for affordable housing. In-town growth can also encourage the bulldozing of existing small homes, only to be replaced by larger, higher priced homes.

However, when there are less properties available, developers resort to denser development with townhomes and duplexes. Jones Pierce faced such a situation with a historic neighborhood double parcel that needed multifamily housing. But, how does one create a “new” building type that didn’t exist when the historic neighborhood was a vibrant part of Atlanta?

Sweet Auburn

Sweet Auburn is one of Atlanta’s most recognized African-American neighborhoods, because it is the birth place of Martin Luther King Jr. Working with the Sweet Auburn Works and the City of Atlanta, we proposed tiny townhomes at 14’, 16’, and 18’ wide. At this size, multiple units combine to achieve a massing that is compatible with the neighborhood’s original commercial buildings. However, the interiors have the sleek, modern, almost European feel that young professionals desire. Most importantly, the narrow townhomes are constructed within the price confines of young professionals’ budgets.

Townhome Rendered Elevation

Front Elevation Rendering of Boulevard Townhomes

The Challenge

One challenge that surfaced during this project was “the shoebox effect.” With natural light only entering at the front and back of the unit, how do you keep the tiny townhome from feeling like a shoe box? Our solution was to create an internal light well. We accomplished this by altering the central staircase into a C-shape. Thus, natural light fills the interior of the home via a skylight. Now the townhome is brighter, healthier, more inviting and compliments the clean, modern lines of the interior.

Designed with natural light, new LED fixtures, and energy efficient appliances and plumbing fixtures, the tiny townhomes will have lower utility bills which reduce monthly expenses. These homes could be part of the solution for meeting the needs of lower income homebuyers.

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