“We filter people through layers, from exposed public areas to more closed, private spaces. In a courtyard, we loosely define semiprivate areas with planters, hardscape, or low walls. We increase these dividers until you reach private exterior spaces connecting to individual units. To make our projects feel alive, we allow light and movement to filter out of units with frosted glass, louvers, perforated metal, or wood screens and tall, sparse planting materials.”
—Carl Smith, AIA, William Adams Architects, Venice, Calif.

“Apply the same design sense you would to a single-family home. Each unit should have a public porch and entry space, and interior living space facing the street where possible. Scale and a single-story entry are most important in creating identity in each unit. Even in condominiums, common hallways and doorways can be thought of as interior streets.”
—William Moore, AIA, Sprocket Design-Build, Denver

  • Credit: William Adams Architects

“Design for chance instances of sociability, but don't force it. We try to give tenants their own exterior front door (no double-loaded corridors if you can help it) and a variety of exterior courtyard spaces for a variety of activities. Passing through the courtyards encourages social interaction.”
—Angela Brooks, AIA, Pugh + Scarpa Architects, Santa Monica, Calif.

“First, we don't skimp on acoustic insulation or wall construction on the interiors. Second, we try to create public and semiprivate spaces on the exterior—communal lawns and stoops, walled gardens, and elevated decks.”
—Jim Poteet, AIA, Poteet Architects, San Antonio

how do you design privacy and society into multifamily housing?