Raising the bar for residential luxury.

Karl Wallasch

Karl Wallasch, Technical Director

The shared lobby opportunity.

There are so many elements of design that come together to deliver ‘luxury’ in living spaces.

For high-end residential developments that will eventually demand the highest of prices, our clients have to provide something extra-special in terms of design. Subsequently, the luxury residential market is often where the most forward-thinking solutions are developed: from digital ‘smart’ apartments, to human-centric lighting design,

While fixtures and fittings, spaciousness, environmental quality are all part of the luxury offering, arguably one of the most key attractive qualities for residents is privacy.

Something desirable to future residents is a key opportunity for designers like us to add value to a project…

A feeling of privacy is realised when a variety of design considerations work together in tandem. But we are starting to see one element standing out from the rest in terms of value-added: the ‘shared lobby’.

Direct access.

Within a block of apartments, a shared lobby enables a resident to step straight into their apartment directly from the lift. Technically, it is a shared space as the landlord still has access rights (for maintenance etc), but ultimately the occupant has the experience of ‘exclusivity’ – avoiding the need to enter a common corridor before opening their apartment door.

Occupants aside, there are significant benefits for architects and developers. Firstly, the possibility of entering an apartment directly from the lift and increasing the flat area provides a much higher degree of architectural freedom and design flexibility. Secondly, a shared lobby offers privacy, more saleable area, and – as a result – increased financial return.

Previously, due to complexity and cost, shared lobbies were only ever seen in some of the world’s most luxury penthouses. But they are becoming an increasing possibility.

So if the benefits and added-value of shared lobbies are so significant, what has stopped them being prevalent throughout high-end apartment blocks, as well as the highest-possible luxury penthouses?

Firstly, in terms of building regulations and fire safety, the shared lobby isn’t a standard solution. It demands an experienced and solutions-driven team of experts to execute it effectively; it also requires discussions with the approving authorities and the fire brigade. Equally, clients and architects perhaps haven’t always understood the valuable financial returns that shared lobbies can bring. And finally, the complex considerations required to design and deliver them span a variety of disciplines, and therefore require a truly collaborative method.

Ultimately, by taking a holistic design approach, the shared lobby principle can be successfully integrated into the design of an apartment.

Outlined below are just some of the multi-discipline considerations required to deliver shared lobbies that are:

– seamless
– safe
– unobtrusive

Acoustic absorption to control reverb and noise build up from the lift shaft, with a door likely to be required.

Fire Engineering
Residential sprinkler protection; additional fire door (or fire curtain) in front of the lift; possible fire detection system for automatic door-opening; building heights; implications to management strategy; Building Control and Fire Service Officer negotiations.

Natural or mechanical ventilation for shared lobby; access and maintenance strategy to common risers.

Lift door; specific locking and control mechanisms for ‘entrance doors’; location of CCTV camera within common corridor or lift.

Vertical Transportation
Maintenance and access rights for lift personnel; control and access strategy; control panel arrangements with lift supplier.