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Above or Below? Multi-Level Houses

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 23 Nov 2014 | comments*Discuss
Multilevel Houses Construction Above

Multilevel houses, whether this means two stories, or utilising a basement and an attic space, are an effective use of space within a construction, both above and below ground.

Most of us live and work in multilevel buildings, and they are generally taken for granted. But for an architect to properly consider the most effective use of space available when designing a building, creating and using levels effectively is one of the most important rules of design.

Even climbing steps to enter a property is to create multilevels within one space: whether this is to create a separation from a street and a property, or to create a feeling of climbing a level to enter a new space, there are all sorts of ways a skilled and thoughtful designer can work with multilevels.

Upstairs, Downstairs: Above and Below

One relatively simple way of creating more space inside a property is to dig down several feet, and build a second level, like a minstrels gallery, within one room. There are several building issues to be tackled before this is done – for instance the building may sit on water, and this needs to be thoroughly checked before contemplating such a job. Building regulations also must be thoroughly researched and if necessary, municipal permission granted.

This sort of project can effectively create two room spaces within one: this is the beauty of creating multilevel spaces. One area, upstairs, could become a study, and below could be a spare or guest bedroom, for instance.

If there is any kind of cellar space in the property, consider if this could be imaginatively redesigned and used more effectively. The same idea goes for attic space: with the minimum of construction effort, all available spaces in many houses can be used to create multilevel living. The beauty of attic space is that natural light can be used to its best effect.

An attic with windows on the sloping roof means that this multilevel space can often be created easily and quite cheaply – little construction is needed, but simple reorganisation, proper access being created perhaps with stairs or a ladder, reinforcement of the floor and ceilings, creation of windows, and then an existing space in a property can be used to maximum effect, rather than just the simple storage space that most attics are used for.

Constructing Multilevel Spaces to Live a Multilevel Life

With many spaces inside a home, many people often miss the fact that lives are becoming multilevel, as different activities and parts of the waking day are spent in different parts and on different levels of the same building.

A bedroom on one level, the kitchen and perhaps a study on others, as well as a garden at ground level (or even a roof or terrace garden). If we are extremely fortunate, perhaps a pool in the garden or even in the basement. Some houses in the UK have created underground parking, so it is possible to exist and co-exist across multilevel dimensions within the same living area, carrying out many functions and activities in the day, cleverly using less space than would be initially envisaged.

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