Housing typologies

Learn about seven housing typologies in Scotland through built examples.

An aerial view of a row of different coloured terraced homes overlooking the Firth of Clyde on a partly cloudy day.
Published: 21/01/2017

Our housing typology case studies illustrate where designers have sought to reconcile contemporary living with the wider roles of the individual house integral to placemaking.

Our aim is to show the link between the design of the house and the place of which it forms a part.

The seven-part series looks at the typologies’ roles and includes mapping, photography, scale drawings, and built examples. From East Ayrshire to the Shetland Islands, we explore:

  1. the terrace
  2. clusters, groupings and courtyards
  3. closes, wynds and mews
  4. edge
  5. towers, corners and markers
  6. topographic and climatic responses
  7. adaptables
A close-up shot of a row of different coloured terraced homes on a cloudless day. Each home has a sloping lawn in front of it.

1. Housing typology: the terrace

Combining economy with climatic resilience, terraced housing continues as a form that adapts well to policy objectives for energy performance, townscape and placemaking.

Image credit: Andrew Lee

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A close-up shot of a few homes with white walls and dark grey roofs against a bright blue sky. A leafless tree and a collection of houses are pictured in the background.

2. Housing typology: clusters, groupings and courtyards

Combining shelter and enclosure with common outdoor space, housing in clusters can contribute to meeting local policy objectives for townscape and sustainable design.

Image credit: Page\Park Architects

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A modern two-storey house mews street with street trees, hedges and four parked cars pictured. The homes are a mixture of white and dark grey.

3. Housing typology: closes, wynds and mews

In urban Scotland, closes and wynds emerged behind the market street as the narrow routes between plots of land. These slender routes, with their closely-bound adjoining buildings and boundary walls, form a distinctive Scottish typology.

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A house overlooking a street and neighbourhood green, with about ten people in the street.

4. Housing typology: edge

This housing typology forms edges to parks, public open space, and the wider landscape.

Image credit: AREA

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A long, modern house with a distinctive raised corner and large windows on a partly cloudy day.

5. Housing typology: towers, corners and markers

From the tower house to craggy skylines and the Kirk, built form in Scotland includes many landmark buildings. They respond imaginatively to the quirks of Scottish topography and visual context.

Image credit: AREA

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A view of red and grey brick terraced houses on a steep site, from the lower street front to higher back gardens. The gardens are in shade and it is a partly cloudy day.

6. Housing typology: topographic and climatic responses

Sloping land, rainfall and precious low winter sun are just a few of the distinctive characteristics influencing the siting and design of housing in Scotland.

Image credit: Elder and Cannon Architects

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Two homes look over a village green on an overcast day. People are milling about the edge of the green and an older person in the foreground is sitting down reading.

7. Housing typology: adaptables

With current policy seeking adaptability in the design of new housing, we look at examples allowing potential for the home to accommodate change and different uses in a number of ways.

Image credit: AREA

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Header image credit: Andrew Lee