An apartment (American English), flat (British English) or unit (Australian English) is a self-contained housing unit (a type of residential real estate) that occupies only part of a building, generally on a single storey. There are many names for these overall buildings, see below. The housing tenure of apartments also varies considerably, from large-scale public housing, to owner occupancy within what is legally a condominium (strata title or commonhold), to tenants renting from a private landlord (see leasehold estate).
The term apartment is favored in North America (although in some cities flat is used for a unit which is part of a house containing two or three units, typically one to a floor). In the UK, the term apartment is more usual in professional real estate and architectural circles where otherwise the term flat is used commonly, but not exclusively, for an apartment on a single level (hence a 'flat' apartment).
In some countries the word "unit" is a more general term referring to both apartments and rental business suites. The word 'unit' is generally used only in the context of a specific building; e.g., "This building has three units" or "I'm going to rent a unit in this building", but not "I'm going to rent a unit somewhere".
Some buildings can be characterized as 'mixed use buildings', meaning part of the building is for commercial, business, or office use, usually on the first floor or first couple of floors, and one or more apartments are found in the rest of the building, usually on the upper floors.
Tenement law refers to the feudalism basis of permanent property such as land or rents. It may be found combined as in "Messuage or Tenement" to encompass all the land, buildings and other assets of a property.
In the United States, some apartment-dwellers own their units, either as a housing cooperative, in which the residents own shares of a corporation that owns the building or development; or in a condominium, whose residents own their apartments and share ownership of the public spaces. Most apartments are in buildings designed for the purpose, but large older are sometimes divided into apartments. The word apartment denotes a residential unit or section in a building. In some locations, particularly the United States, the word connotes a rental unit owned by the building owner, and is not typically used for a condominium.
In England and Wales, some flat owners own shares in the company that owns the Fee simple of the building as well as holding the flat under a lease. This arrangement is commonly known as a "share of freehold" flat. The freehold company has the right to collect annual ground rents from each of the flat owners in the building. The freeholder can also develop or sell the building, subject to the usual planning and restrictions that might apply. This situation does not happen in Scotland, where long leasehold of residential property was formerly unusual, and is now impossible.
A high-rise building is defined by its height differently in various . It may be only residential, in which case it might also be called a tower block, or it might include other functions such as hotel, offices, or shops. There is no clear difference between a tower block and a skyscraper, although a building with fifty or more stories is generally considered a skyscraper. High-rise buildings became possible with the invention of the elevator (lift) and cheaper, more abundant building materials. Their structural system usually is made of reinforced concrete and steel.
A low-rise building and mid-rise buildings have fewer storeys, but the limits are not always clear. Emporis defines a low-rise as "an enclosed structure below 35 metres 115 which is divided into regular floor levels." The city of Toronto defines a mid-rise as a building between 4 and 12 stories.http://faculty.geog.utoronto.ca/Hess/Courses/studio/presentation%20on%20avenues%20and%20mid-rise%20study.pdf
In British English the usual word is "flat", but apartment is used by property developers to denote expensive 'flats' in exclusive and expensive residential areas in, for example, parts of London such as Belgravia and Hampstead. In Scotland, it is called a block of flats or, if it is a traditional sandstone building, a tenement, a term which has a negative connotation elsewhere.
Australian English and New Zealand English traditionally used the term flat (although it also applies to any rental property), and more recently also use the terms unit or apartment. In Australia, a 'unit' refers to flats, apartments or even semi-detached houses. In Australia, the terms "unit", "flat" and "apartment" are largely used interchangeably. Newer high-rise buildings are more often marketed as "apartments", as the term "flats" carries colloquial connotations. The term condominium or condo is rarely used in Australia despite attempts by developers to market it.
In South African English, an apartment is usually a single level rental area that is a part of a larger building and can be entered from inside the building through a separate door leading off either a wind tunnel or entrance hall/lobby that is shared with other occupants of the building.
In Malaysian English, flat often denotes a housing block of two rooms with walk-up, no lift, without facilities, typically five storeys tall, and with outdoor parking space, Categories of Homes in Malaysia. while apartment is more generic and may also include luxury condominiums.
In Japanese English ( Wasei-eigo), the term apartment ( apaato) is used for lower-income housing and mansion ( manshon) is used for high-end apartments; but both terms refer to what English-speakers regard as an apartment (or condominium) and not the level of luxury of a mansion in English parlance. See Housing in Japan. Danchi is the Japanese word for a large cluster of apartment buildings of a particular style and design, typically built as public housing by government authorities.
A bedsit is a UK variant on single room accommodation: a bed-sitting room, probably without cooking facilities, with a shared bathroom. A bedsit is not self-contained and so is not an apartment or flat as this article uses the terms; it forms part of what the UK government calls a House in multiple occupation
A maisonette could encompass , pairs of single-storey flats within a two-storey terraced house. Their distinctive feature is their use of two separate front doors onto the street, each door leading to a single flat. "Maisonette" could also stretch to , also known as 'Four-in-a-block flats', a style of housing common in Scotland.
Duplex description can be different depending on the part of the USA, but generally has two to four dwellings with a door for each and usually two front doors close together but separate - referred to as 'duplex' indicating the number of units, not the number of floors, as in some areas of the country they are often only one story. The term duplex is largely unknown in the UK; there, buildings containing two dwellings with a common vertical wall are known as semi-detached or just a semi (the i pronounced "ee" not "eye"), but the dwellings are usually two storeys (excluding any use of the roof space). This form of construction is very common, and built as such rather than a later conversion.
In the United States, regional forms have developed, see vernacular architecture. In Milwaukee, a Polish flat or "raised cottage" is an existing small house that has been lifted up to accommodate the creation of a basement floor housing a separate apartment, then set down again, thus becoming a modest pair of dwellings.
Groups of more than two units have corresponding names (Triplex, etc.). Those buildings that have a third storey are known as triplexes. See Three-decker (house). Again, the term triplex is virtually unknown in the UK.
These loft apartments were usually located in former highrise warehouses and factories left vacant after town planning rules and economic conditions in the mid 20th century changed. The resulting apartments created a new bohemian lifestyle and are arranged in a completely different way from most urban living spaces, often including workshops and art studio spaces. As the supply of old buildings of a suitable nature has dried up developers have responded by constructing new buildings in the same aesthetic with varying degrees of success.
An industrial, warehouse, or commercial space converted to an apartment is commonly called a loft, although some modern lofts are built by design.
A feature of these apartment blocks was quite glamorous interiors with lavish bathrooms but no kitchen or laundry spaces in each flat. This style of living became very fashionable as many upper-class people found they could not afford as many live-in staff after the First World War and revelled in a "lock-up and leave" life style that serviced apartment hotels supplied. Some buildings have been subsequently renovated with standard facilities in each apartment, but serviced apartment hotel complexes continue to be constructed. Recently a number of hotels have supplemented their traditional business model with serviced apartment wings, creating privately owned areas within their buildings - either freehold or leasehold.
Laundry facilities may reside in a common area accessible to all building tenants, or each apartment may have its own facilities. Depending on when the building was built and its design, utilities such as water, heating, and electricity may be common for all of the apartments, or separate for each apartment and billed separately to each tenant. (Many areas in the US have ruled it illegal to split a water bill among all the tenants, especially if a pool is on the premises.) Outlets for connection to telephones are typically included in apartments. Telephone service is optional and is almost always billed separately from the rent payments. Cable television and similar amenities also cost extra. Parking space(s), air conditioning, and extra storage space may or may not be included with an apartment. Rental Rental agreement often limit the maximum number of residents in each apartment.
On or around the ground floor of the apartment building, a series of Letter box are typically kept in a location accessible to the public and, thus, to the mail carrier. Every unit typically gets its own mailbox with individual keys to it. Some very large apartment buildings with a full-time staff may take mail from the carrier and provide mail-sorting service. Near the mailboxes or some other location accessible by outsiders, a buzzer (equivalent to a doorbell) may be available for each individual unit. In smaller apartment buildings such as two- or three-flats, or even four-flats, rubbish is often disposed of in trash containers similar to those used at houses. In larger buildings, rubbish is often collected in a common trash bin or dumpster. For cleanliness or minimizing noise, many lessors will place restrictions on tenants regarding smoking or keeping pets in an apartment.
Moving up from studio flats are one-bedroom apartments, in which a bedroom is separate from the rest of the apartment, followed by two-bedroom, three-bedroom, etc. apartments. (Apartments with more than three bedrooms are rare.)
Small apartments often have only one entrance. Large apartments often have two entrances, perhaps a door in the front and another in the back, or from an underground or otherwise attached parking structure. Depending on the building design, the entrance doors may be connected directly to the outside or to a common area inside, such as a hallway or a lobby.
In many American cities, the One-plus-five style of mid-rise, wood-framed apartments have gained significant popularity following a 2009 revision to the International Building Code; these buildings typically feature four wood-framed floors above a concrete podium and are popular with developers due to their high density and relatively lower construction costs.
In the Classic Period city of Teotihuacan, apartments were not only the standard means of housing the city's population of over 200,000 inhabitants, but show a remarkably even wealth distribution for the entire city, even by contemporary standards. Furthermore, the apartments were inhabited by the general populace as a whole, in contrast to other Pre-Modern socieites, where apartments were limited to housing the lower class members of the society, as with the somewhat contemporary Roman insulae.
By the 16th century, the current Cairo also had high-rise apartment buildings, where the two lower floors were for commercial and storage purposes and the multiple stories above them were Renting out to Leasehold estate.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the concept of the flat was slow to catch on amongst the British middle classes, which generally followed the north European standard of single-family houses dating far back into history. Those who lived in flats were assumed to be lower class and somewhat itinerant, renting for example a "flat above a shop" as part of a lease agreement for a tradesman. In London and most of Britain, everyone who could afford to do so occupied an entire house—even if this was a small terraced house—while the working poor continued to rent rooms in often overcrowded properties, with one (or more) families per room.
During the last quarter of the 19th century, as wealth increased, ideas began to change. Both urban growth and the increase in population meant that more imaginative housing concepts would be needed if the middle and upper classes were to maintain a pied-à-terre in the capital. The traditional London town house was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain. For bachelors and unmarried women in particular, the idea of renting a modern mansion flat became increasingly popular.
The first mansion flats in England were:
During the 19th century tenements became the predominant type of new housing in Scotland's industrial cities, although they were very common in the Old Town in Edinburgh from the 15th century, where they reached ten or eleven storeys and in one case fourteen storeys. Built of sandstone or granite, Scottish tenements are usually three to five storeys in height, with two to four flats on each floor. (In contrast, industrial cities in England tended to favour "back-to-back" terraced house of brick.) Scottish tenements are constructed in terraces, and each entrance within a block is referred to as a close or stair—both referring to the shared passageway to the individual flats. Flights of stairs and landings are generally designated common areas, and residents traditionally took turns to sweep clean the floors and, in Aberdeen in particular, took turns to make use of shared laundry facilities in the "back green" (garden or yard). It is now more common for cleaning of the common ways to be contracted out through a managing agent or "factor".
In Glasgow, where Scotland's highest concentration of tenement dwellings can be found, the urban renewal projects of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s brought an end to the city's slums, which had primarily consisted of older tenements built in the early 19th century in which large extended families would live together in cramped conditions. They were replaced by high-rise blocks that, within a couple of decades, became notorious for crime and poverty. The Glasgow Corporation made many efforts to improve the situation, most successfully with the City Improvement Trust, which cleared the slums of the old town, replacing them with what they thought of as a traditional high street, which remains an imposing townscape. (The City Halls and the Cleland Testimonial were part of this scheme.) National government help was given following World War I when Housing Acts sought to provide "homes fit for heroes". Garden suburb areas, based on English models, such as Knightswood, were set up. These proved too expensive, so a modern tenement, three stories high, slate roofed and built of reconstituted stone, was re-introduced and a slum clearance programme initiated to clear areas such as the Calton and the Garngad.
After World War II, more ambitious plans, known as the Bruce Plan, were made for the complete evacuation of slums for modern mid-rise housing developments on the outskirts of the city. However, the central government refused to fund the plans, preferring instead to depopulate the city to a series of New Towns.Williamson, E., Riches, A. & Higgs, M. The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow. London: Penguin Books, 1990 Houses and Mansions: Domestic Architecture of Glasgow's South Side 2008-06-03 Again, economic considerations meant that many of the planned "New Town" amenities were never built in these areas. These housing estates, known as "schemes", came therefore to be widely regarded as unsuccessful; many, such as Castlemilk, were just dormitories well away from the centre of the city with no amenities, such as shops and public houses ("deserts with windows", as Billy Connolly once put it). High-rise living too started off with bright ambition—the Moss Heights, built in the 1950s, are still desirable—but fell prey to later economic pressure. Many of the later tower blocks were poorly designed and cheaply built and their anonymity caused some social problems. The demolition of the tower blocks in order to build modern housing schemes has in some cases led to a re-interpretations of the tenement.
In 1970 a team from Strathclyde University demonstrated that the old tenements had been basically sound, and could be given new life with replumbing providing modern kitchens and bathrooms. The Corporation acted on this principle for the first time in 1973 at the Old Swan Corner, Pollokshaws. Thereafter, Housing Action Areas were set up to renovate so-called slums. Later, privately owned tenements benefited from government help in "stone cleaning", revealing a honey-coloured sandstone behind the presumed "grey" tenemental facades. The policy of tenement demolition is now considered to have been short-sighted, wasteful and largely unsuccessful. Many of Glasgow's worst tenements were refurbished into desirable accommodation in the 1970s and 1980s Glasgow Digital Library: Demolition of tenements in Gourlay Street, 1975 and the policy of demolition is considered to have destroyed fine examples of a "universally admired architectural" style. The Glasgow Housing Association took ownership of the public housing stock from the city council on 7 March 2003, and has begun a £96 million clearance and demolition programme to clear and demolish many of the high-rise flats. Glasgow announces a revolution in house-building Wednesday 31 May 2006.
Blind Man's Alley bear its name for a reason. Until little more than a year ago its dark burrows harbored a colony of blind beggars, tenants of a blind landlord, old Daniel Murphy, whom every child in the ward knows, if he never heard of the President of the United States. "Old Dan" made a big fortune--he told me once four hundred thousand dollars-- out of his alley and the surrounding tenements, only to grow blind himself in extreme old age, sharing in the end the chief hardship of the wretched beings whose lot he had stubbornly refused to better that he might increase his wealth. Even when the Board of Health at last compelled him to repair and clean up the worst of the old buildings, under threat of driving out the tenants and locking the doors behind them, the work was accomplished against the old man's angry protests. He appeared in person before the Board to argue his case, and his argument was characteristic. "I have made my will," he said. "My monument stands waiting for me in Calvary. I stand on the very brink of the grave, blind and helpless, and now (here the pathos of the appeal was swept under in a burst of angry indignation) do you want me to build and get skinned, skinned? These people are not fit to live in a nice house. Let them go where they can, and let my house stand." In spite of the genuine anguish of the appeal, it was downright amusing to find that his anger was provoked less by the anticipated waste of luxury on his tenants than by distrust of his own kind, the builder. He knew intuitively what to expect. The result showed that Mr. Murphy had gauged his tenants correctly.(1890). 9789111562980, Charles Scribner's Sons. . ISBN 9789111562980
Many campaigners, such as Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis, pushed for reforms in tenement dwellings. As a result, the New York State Tenement House Act was passed in 1901 to improve the conditions. More improvements followed. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed the Housing Act of 1949 to clean slums and reconstruct housing units for the poor.
The Dakota (1884) was one of the first luxury apartment buildings in New York City. The majority, however, remained tenements.
Some significant developments in architectural design of apartment buildings came out of the 1950s and '60s. Among them were groundbreaking designs in the 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments (1951), New Century Guild (1961), Marina City (1964) and Lake Point Tower (1968).
In the United States, "tenement" is a label usually applied to the less expensive, more basic rental apartment buildings in older sections of large cities. Many of these apartment buildings are "walk-ups" without an elevator, and some have shared bathing facilities, though this is becoming less common. The slang term "dingbat" is used to describe cheap urban apartment buildings from the 1950s and 1960s with unique and often wacky façades to differentiate themselves within a full block of apartments. They are often built on stilts, and with parking underneath.
Class A properties are luxury units. They are usually less than 10 years old and are often new, upscale apartment buildings. Average rents are high, and they are generally in desirable geographic areas. White-collar workers live in them and are usually renters by choice.
Class B properties can be 10 to 25 years old. They are generally well maintained and have a middle class tenant base of both white- and blue-collar workers. Some are renters by choice, and others by necessity.
Class C properties were built within the last 30 to 40 years. They generally have blue-collar and low- to moderate-income tenants, and the rents are below market. Many tenants are renters "for life". On the other hand, some of their tenants are just starting out and are likely to work their way up the rental scale as their income rises.
Class D properties house many Section 8 (government-subsidized) tenants. They are generally located in lower socioeconomic areas.
In Australia, apartment living is a popular lifestyle choice for DINKY, , university students and more recently , however, rising land values in the big cities in recent years has seen an increase in families living in apartments. In Melbourne and Sydney apartment living is sometimes not a matter of choice for the many socially disadvantaged people who often end up in public housing towers.
Australia has a relatively recent history in apartment buildings. Terrace houses were the early response to density development, though the majority of Australians lived in fully detached houses. Apartments of any kind were legislated against in the Parliament of Queensland as part of the Undue Subdivision of Land Prevention Act 1885.
The earliest apartment buildings were in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne as the response to fast rising land values–both cities are home to the two oldest surviving apartment buildings in the country, Kingsclere in Potts Point, and The Canterbury Flats in St Kilda. Melbourne Mansions on Collins Street, Melbourne (now demolished), built in 1906 for mostly wealthy residents is believed by many to be the earliest. Today the oldest surviving self-contained apartment buildings are in the St Kilda area including the Fawkner Mansions (1910), Majestic Mansions (1912 as a boarding house) and the Canterbury (1914—the oldest surviving buildings contained flats). Kingsclere, built in 1912 is believed to be the earliest apartment building in Sydney and still survives.
During the interwar years, apartment building continued in inner Melbourne (particularly in areas such as St Kilda and South Yarra), Sydney (particularly in areas such as Potts Point, Darlinghust and Kings Cross) and in Brisbane (in areas such as New Farm, Fortitude Valley and Spring Hill).
Post-World War II, with the Australian Dream apartment buildings went out of vogue and flats were seen as accommodation only for the poor. Walk-up flats (without a lift) of two to three storeys however were common in the middle suburbs of cities for lower income groups.
The main exceptions were Sydney and the Gold Coast, Queensland where apartment development continued for more than half a century. In Sydney a limited geography and highly sought after waterfront views (Sydney Harbour and beaches such as Bondi) made apartment living socially acceptable. While on the Gold Coast views of the ocean, proximity to the beach and a large tourist population made apartments a popular choice. Since the 1960s, these cities maintained much higher population densities than the rest of Australia through the acceptance of apartment buildings.
In other cities, apartment building was almost solely restricted to public housing. Public housing in Australia was common in the larger cities, particularly in Melbourne (by the Housing Commission of Victoria) where a huge number of hi-rise housing commission flats were built between the 1950s and 1970s by successive governments as part of an urban renewal program. Areas affected included Fitzroy, Flemington, Collingwood, Carlton, Richmond and Prahran. Similar projects were run in Sydney's lower socio-economic areas like Redfern.
In Melbourne, in the 1990s, a trend began for apartment buildings without the requirement of spectacular views. As a continuation of the gentrification of the inner city, a fashion became New York "loft" style apartments (see above) and a large stock of old warehouses and old abandoned office buildings in and around the central business district became the target of developers. The trend of adaptive reuse extended to conversion of old churches and schools. Similar warehouse conversions and gentrification began in Brisbane suburbs such as Teneriffe, Queensland and Fortitude Valley and in Sydney in areas such as Ultimo. As supply of buildings for conversion ran out, reproduction and post modern style apartments followed. The popularity of these apartments also stimulated a boom in the construction of new hi-rise apartment buildings in inner cities. This was particularly the case in Melbourne which was fuelled by official planning policies (Postcode 3000), making the CBD the fastest growing, population wise in the country. Apartment building in the Melbourne metropolitan area has also escalated with the advent of the Melbourne 2030 planning policy. Urban renewal areas like Docklands, Southbank, St Kilda Road and Port Melbourne are now predominantly apartments. There has also been a sharp increase in the number of student apartment buildings in areas such as Carlton in Melbourne.
Today, residential buildings Eureka Tower and Q1 are the tallest in the country. In many cases, apartments in inner city areas of the major cities can cost much more than much larger houses in the outer suburbs.
Some Australian cities, such as Gold Coast, Queensland, are inhabited predominantly by apartment dwellers.
These “socialist” ideas for the organization of living space had a firm base in theoretical research and underwent the phase of testing in architectural , housing seminars and congresses, which made them spread over the whole territory of the countryKulić, V. (2012) Architecture and Ideology in Socialist Yugoslavia, in Mrduljaš, M. and Kulić, V. (eds.) Unfinished Modernisations: Between Utopia and Pragmatism. Zagreb: UHA/CCA, pp. 36-63.; Alfirević Đorđe, Simonović Alfirević Sanja. „Urban Housing Experiments in Yugoslavia 1948-1970”. Spatium (Belgrade), No. 34 (2015), pp. 1-9. (DOI: 10.2298/SPAT1534001A); Milašinović-Marić, D. (2012) Housing Design Model Within Unique Architectural Complexes in Serbia in The Sixties of 20th Century: As Model Forms of Harmonization Between Ideology an Modern Architectural Forms, in Mako, V., Roter-Blagojević, M., Vukotić-Lazar, M. (eds.) Proceedings from International Conference Architecture & Ideology, September 28-29. Belgrade: Faculty of Architecture University of Belgrade, pp. 549-556..
The process of humanizing housing was not characteristic only in the Yugoslav context, similar ideas also appeared in other socialist countries of that period, as in the example of pre-fabricated housing construction in the Soviet Union (Khrushchyovka), Czechoslovakia (Panelák), Hungary (Panelház) and East Germany (Plattenbau).Jovanović J., Grbić J., Petrović, D. (2012) Prefabricated Construction in Former Yugoslavia. Visual and Aesthetic Features and Technology of Prefabrication, in Herold, S. and Stefanovska, B. (eds.) 45+ Post-War Modern Architecture in Europe. Berlin: Universitätsverlag der Technischen Universität Berlin, pp. 175-187.