VFE Townhouse garden flats
Much of Zimbabwean residential construction is geared towards individual cluster housing, but townhouse garden flats are again becoming popular. With all the benefits of a closed community, but with reduced building costs, they are quickly becoming the best option for the first time home owners.
Garden flat master plan
The townhouses are situated within the new cluster housing development Victoria Falls Estate, in the Yard cluster. The town planning concept was slightly different to the usual projects, striving to eliminate the presence of vehicles within the serenity of the vegetation. A large parking area was located immediately by the entrance gate, creating a filter and barrier to the street noise and views. Abundant parking was dedicated to both the occupants and guests behind a secure, manned gate house. In its vicinity are the water tanks, refuse collection and staff day areas.
Public greenery and creating architectural variety
From the parking area a pedestrian path immersed in greenery leads to the individual houses, passing by a large open lawned area dedicated to a park area for children and adults. The residential units were grouped around a central staircase, with two garden flats downstairs and two above for each entrance. With nine entrances this gave a total of thirtyfour modern flats within the cluster including the side ones which gained particular treatment due to being on the end. The apartment blocks were shifted in respect to one another to break up the repetition, provide privacy to the individual flats, and also allow us to maintain as many of the existing trees as possible. Beside the public gardens and park, all ground floor units have a private back garden that was additionally protected from first floor views through the use of side screens and a the large roof overhang on the veranda. Mixing facade colours, stepping the buildings and careful placement of new vegetation has broken up the repetitive nature of the townhouses and led to a pleasing atmosphere within the housing complex.
Townhouse garden flat design
The 120m2 garden flats were designed with the Victoria Falls climate and lifestyle in mind. The large open plan living area includes the kitchen, dining and living room. These open up onto the covered veranda, effectively doubling the usable day area. The external veranda overlooks a private garden, connecting the whole internal and external space with nature and allowing a seamless experience. The two bedroom block is distinct from the day areas, allowing a clear separation of sights and sounds, affording individual privacy. A scullery and bathroom form the remainder of the apartment. Careful considerations have been made of the use and design of the flats, such as a small window counter linking the kitchen and external veranda, allowing the passing and serving of food outside without the need to walk all the way around. Another feature was the positioning of the gas bottles outside the flats, in the central staircase, but still locked and hidden from view.
Green design and passive cooling
Positioning and orienting the houses was paramount in the hot climate of Victoria falls, and was carefully studied during the architectural design. All doors and windows have large overhangs preventing direct sun penetration and heat accumulation. The roof space has significant natural cross ventilation to cool it stoping heat from passing to the apartments below. The central staircase has clear panels allowing the passage of light and vents to allow the hot air to escape. The existing indigenous trees were surveyed and integrated into the design, making all efforts to keep them and the position of new trees was carefully studied to provide maximal shade to the garden flats. Solar geysers and photovoltaic panels for electricity generation were integrated into the green design.
Rapid sales of the planned units and positive reviews from buyers confirm that the design choices made were the correct ones for the new Zimbabwean townhouse garden flat development.