a skyscraper base containing homes

resibase01Skyscraper with resibase in Vancouver

In one of our previous entrees, we defined the plinth to be the ground floors of a skyscraper that connects with the street. If you visit the street section in our glossary you’ll find some terms discussing the problematic issues related with the street level of a skyscraper, the biggest one related to the lack of urban amenities at the base as suggested by the height of the building.

The easy way to develop a plinth is to allow for a few spaces generally designed for commercial usage and just see what happens. Commercial real estate however is primarily interested about the business in the environment, not in what happens in the air.

You know a skyscraper is positioned in a bad location when it’s ground floor space is standing idle for years, or transferred into offices with impermeable glass facades. Especially skyscrapers positioned in new development areas or bistricts are struggling to develop an interesting plinth (see gallery).

Luckily there is another alternative: plinth homes. Walking past a row of houses is always fun because you get many actual glimpses of other people’s lives. One might be seen cooking, reading or watching TV, which is something you don’t see when someone lives above street level, and hence gives you a sense of liveliness.

Vancouver has some nice examples of houses, or better put, homes at street level, underneath a skyscraper (see above). The base at the Aqua tower in Chicago has a nice row of houses incorporated in the base of the project, facing a park (see gallery). Base homes are a bit of challenge when it comes to floor plans as most likely you’ll only have windows on one side, but no one argues non conventual could not be fun.

As office or commercial space usually goes as higher rates compared to residential, a resibase probably means less profit for the developer. But it sure means more profit for the city, especially when neighbourhood amenities are actively developed at the base.