Communal outdoor spaces Print

Design Outcome

​​Design Checklist​

  1. Communal outdoor spaces are overlooked by adjacent terraced houses and provide for residents’ recreation
  2. Outdoor spaces are designed to be accessible, useable and attractive for all residents
  3. Outdoor spaces are easy to maintain and have well defined boundaries with no ambiguity or leftover areas
  4. Outdoor spaces provide a pleasant outlook and visual amenity for all users
​​​​​​​​Communal outdoor space refers to the spaces that can be shared by more than one house within the terraced development. It can be shared by specific clusters of houses, or by residents in the whole development.​​​

Different spaces within a development serve different purposes.  When private outdoor spaces are at a minimum, additional communal spaces should be provided within the site which can be shared by residents to cater for their recreational needs.

This section details five key design considerations when designing communal open space.

The key components for well designed and long lasting communal outdoor spaces include aspect, appropriate shape, amenity, quality activity and interfaces, and accessibility.​

Better Design Practice

To ensure quality, useable communal space:
  • size the outdoor spaces relative to the number of residents; making sure the space is appropriately landscaped and contains the appropriate facilities - e.g. trees for shade in summer
  • design to maximise year-round enjoyment by all residents and their visitors alike
  • locate communal open space to ensure direct solar access between March and September  
  • locate open space in the most sheltered part of the site. The aspect and location should capture the last of the afternoon sun, and provide appropriate shading in summer
  • design for both day and night time use. Good lighting helps to ensure that communal spaces are attractive and aids surveillance after sundown
  • the design of the edge interfaces to communal outdoor spaces should offer a good balance of natural surveillance and privacy
  • consider locating communal outdoor spaces adjacent to private gardens rather than directly abutting terraced houses to offer a privacy buffer between public and private spaces
  • fences should offer a good balance of privacy, as well as opportunities for natural surveillance. Ensure fences incorporate visually permeable materials and design to promote visual contact with communal open spaces.

Communal outdoor spaces should: 
  • be easily accessible to residents and visitors of all ages and mobility levels
  • be accommodated above the ground floor level, provided that adequate amenity and universal access can be achieved
  • be configured, sized, furnished and located so that they are suitable for children of different ages
  • provide appropriately sized, furnished and located formal and informal play spaces that are suitable for the intended housing mix and future resident demographics, particularly children
  • be located on relatively flat gradients, or establish usable terraces
  • use productive gardens and trees to aid amenity
  • provide a secure area for children to play, where they cannot access driveways or the road.

  • Design communal outdoor spaces as ‘outdoor rooms’ that require the same amount of careful design and furnishing as any other room in a development
  • Use both soft landscaping (trees, shrubs, grass, planted beds etc.) and hard landscaping (paving, furniture, fixtures etc.) to define areas
  • Provide a range of quiet open spaces where residents and guests can sit outside and enjoy a meal, as well as more active areas where residents can kick a ball
  • Design communal spaces so there is a clear distinction between any areas designated for servicing (rubbish collection, outdoor washing-drying spaces) and communal amenity spaces
  • A landscape plan which illustrates and provides for the different functional areas within the open space should be prepared
  • A maintenance plan should be provided to ensure communal outdoor spaces become a long term asset to the development
  • Locate communal outdoor spaces around existing mature trees wherever possible, to offer visual amenity and shade during summer months for picnics and passive recreation
  • Areas of existing trees, overland flow paths and areas of steep gradient, as identified in the Site and Context Analysis, should be integrated into the design of communal open space as a positive feature
  • Landscaped gullies or overland flow paths should be protected and incorporated as an integral part of the development.

Rules of Thumb

1. Design the communal open space to maximise sunlight at the Spring and Autumn Equinox of (22 March and 22 September) to maximise the level of comfort, attractiveness and value of this asset.

2. Design pathways to be continuous and at least 1500mm wide, use very shallow-pitched ramps if these are required, and minimise steps, to both provide optimal accessibility and a sense of generosity.

Provide Feedback Next Page   Previous Page