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Urban Townhome Designs That Show Density Isn't a Dirty Word

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House Review

Urban Townhome Designs That Show Density Isn't a Dirty Word

Four great examples of higher-density projects designed with ample open areas and private outdoor spaces

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD House Review Lead Designer October 7, 2020
Aerial view of TSM's Portside Ventura Harbor Townhomes
Togawa Smith Martin's design for townhomes in the coastal community of Portside Ventura Harbor. See more, below.
This article first appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of Pro Builder.

With the current health crisis, the mere mention of high-density housing stirs a range of emotions. At the same time, the value of living in a pedestrian-friendly environment where grocery stores and take-out dining are just a short walk away has proven to be “priceless.” 

In fact, when it comes to coronavirus fears and negative associations with high density, overcrowding is the culprit, not density. Density measures how many people live and work in a specific area; crowding is how physically close people are to one another at any given time. Well-planned density can occur without crowding. 

It seems imperative that we move forward with higher density projects, such as urban townhomes, designed with ample open areas and private outdoor spaces, such as those in the projects featured here.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions.


Portside Ventura Harbor Townhomes, Plan C1

ARCHITECT: Hyo Hong, Togawa Smith Martinhhong@tsminc.com, 213.614.6050


DIMENSIONS: Width: 25 feet, 8 inches; Depth: 29 feet; Living area: 1,283 sf


Portside Ventura Harbor is a new 27-acre, 270-unit coastal community of upscale rental housing that offers waterfront living to people seeking an active lifestyle.

Plan C1 is a two-level townhome over street-level apartments. Each unit features a private, covered entry vestibule on the second floor and spectacular views from the top level. Encompassing 128 townhomes, 132 apartment homes, 30 live/work units, and 10 bungalows, a clubhouse, and retail center, Portside Ventura is designed in a contemporary style inspired by Spanish Mission architecture. Landscape amenities include the public-use promenade, waterfront park, and commercial plaza, as well as a pet park, pool, clubhouse barbecue and spa, and tennis and bocce ball courts.

Ground floor plan of the Portside Ventura Harbor Townhomes


A  Private, covered entry vestibule

B  Two bedroom suites on entry level 

C  Stairs lead to common areas

Public spaces on second level optimize harbor views

E  Vaulted ceiling on second level


First floor floor plan of the Portside Ventura Harbor Townhomes


Interior at the Portside Ventura Harbor Townhomes


Exterior of the Portside Ventura Harbor Townhomes



ARCHITECT: Donald F. Evans, AIA, The Evans Group, devans@theevansgroup.com, 407.650.8770

DIMENSIONS: Width: 28 feet; Depth: 80 feet; Living area: 3,016 sf


What’s typically missing in townhomes—private outdoor space, a three-car garage (for stuff, if not cars)—is accommodated here in the three-level Artesian model.

Each unit’s private atrium and court spaces allow for a barbecue grill, a hot tub, and a container garden. 

This plan even has a dual primary-suite option with private baths in a split-plan configuration separated by a loft space for the kids. While there are options for the open first-floor plan, the one shown here has the formal and informal spaces included.


Floor plans for Donald F. Evans' designed Artesian townhomes

Three-car garage

B  Private outdoor spaces

C  Dual primary suites

D  Split plan separated by a loft


Aerial view of Donald F. Evans' Arteisian townhomes design




ARCHITECT: Dahlin Group Architecture | Planning, marketing@dahlingroup.com, 925.251.7203

DIMENSIONS: Living areas: 1,944 sf to 3,136 sf


A California infill development down the street from the Milpitas City Hall, Prynt is designed in a fresh, contemporary architectural style that reflects the site’s context as well as the spirit of the new residents.

Designed to provide flexibility and convenience, the units offer a ground floor comprised of live/work spaces and spacious two-car garages that facilitate easy access from the street, while traditional living spaces occupy the two upper floors. Every unit is slightly different, providing interesting variety to the building and fostering a creative living and working atmosphere.


Exterior of the Prynt townhomes designed by the Dahlin Group


Street level plan for the Prynt townhomes designed by the Dahlin Group


A  Raised patios and planters at the entry separate the buildings from the sidewalk and create a modern appearance

B  Open live/work space with attached bathroom allows for flexible configuration per tenant needs

Easy access to connected two-car garage at the rear of the units

D  Stairs down to live/work area provide separation between the main space and the entry, with a stairway to the upper floors

Large windows provide plenty of natural light, create curb appeal, and blur the connection between indoor/outdoor spaces


Floor plan 2 for the Prynt townhomes designed by the Dahlin Group


Floor plan 3 for the Prynt townhomes designed by the Dahlin Group


Exterior of Prynt townhomes designed by the Dahlin Group




ARCHITECT: Todd Hallett, AIA, TK Design & Associates, thallett@tkhomedesign.com, 248.446.1960

DIMENSIONS: Width: 24 feet, Depth: 53 feet, Living area: 2,633 sf


Urban townhomes can often have an identity crisis. The design should reflect the existing style of the surrounding environment, while at the same time providing a fresh, contemporary feel. This townhome is in keeping with its neighborhood context but also takes cues from modern design, with simple, clean lines.

TK Design & Associates, the Andrea, front elevation



TK Design & Associates, the Andrea, street-level and first-floor plans


An open floor plan expands the feel of a narrow space

A secluded primary suite on the second floor features a large walk-in closet that provides ample storage

C  Three secondary bedrooms easily serve large families or out-of-town guests

D  A media room on the street level enables a relaxing night in


TK Design & Associates, the Andrea, second-floor plan


Access a PDF of this article in Pro Builder's September/October 2020 digital edition

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