Housing typology: topographic and climatic responses

Learn about housing that responds to local conditions like rainfall and sunlight.

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.
Published: 21/01/2017

Through built examples, this piece explores housing that responds to site-specific local conditions such as topography, flooding or micro-climate.

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.

Illustrated by mapping, photography and scale drawings, our aim is to show the link between design of the house and the place of which it forms a part. 

The case study:

  • looks at the roles of topographic and climatic responses
  • explores built examples in Bearsden, Maryhill and Glasgow 

Case study: housing typology – topographic and climatic responses

Read the full case study to learn more about the typology, including its roles and several built examples.

Roles of topographic and climatic responses

The success of this form can be attributed to some of the useful roles it plays. For example, topographic and climatic responses:

  • conserve energy
  • create built form in harmony with the natural landscape
  • mitigate adverse impacts such as flooding
A view of a house, with what appear to be pinkish walls, from across a small body of water on a sunny day.

Mains Estate, Bearsden

This estate is a good example of the way in which drainage infrastructure, in the form of two retention basins, can create a very attractive focus for new housing. This relies on imaginative planting and landscaping. Completed during the 1990s, this shows the long-term value of maturing landscape over time. Find other examples in the full case study, linked below.

Header image credit: Elder and Cannon Architects

Explore more housing typologies

Our housing typology series illustrates where designers have sought to reconcile contemporary living with the wider roles of the individual house integral to placemaking. Through built examples, from East Ayrshire to the Shetland Islands, we explore the terrace, topographic and climate responses, adaptables, and more.

Read more