We often think that the ground floor of an apartment building is dedicated to vehicle parking, electrical substation and water reservoir. Sometimes owners demand shops to rented out in the front, which can make the entrance narrow. Many of us residents enter our buildings from a lighted street and reach our apartments through a dark unwelcoming space.
The entrance of a building is the space where the street meets the premises. The ground floor ensures interaction between the outdoor and indoor environment, residents and security personnel, and neighbours residing in the same building. Keeping a ground floor equipped with the least amount of service and low maintenance is not a good practice. Hence, architects should be concerned about the ground floor and design a well-lit, welcoming space.
Architects can design a spacious, airy lobby on the ground floor to ensure a welcoming environment at the entrance. Furnishing the lobby with cozy, vibrant-coloured sofas and couches can allow the residents to socialise with their neighbors. It can also be used as a formal meeting space by the residents while taking any important decision.
Though the electrical substation, water reservoir, and gas connection have to be placed on the ground floor, architects can simply hide these fittings from the focus, rather than put them up as exhibits. After placing the mandatory utility services on the ground floor, interior designers can cover them up by installing nonstructural screen walls around them or on the sides explicitly visible from the entrance. The water reservoir and vehicle parking can be placed in the basement or semi-basement, wherever possible.
Architects can add a small children's play center on the ground floor as most buildings and societies lack appropriate play zone for kids. A particular space provided with children's slide, trampoline, ladder, and lookout box, with a small lush garden on the ground floor, can be a recreational space for both, kids and adults.
Realistically, all residential buildings cannot have retail stores near the entryway, which remains a common scene in Dhaka. Designers should discourage the idea of building retail stores. But if there must be one, it can be established away from the building's main entryway.
Furthermore, architects can make room for designing an inviting entry, using the driveway as the pedestrian entry. Whether your house is imposing in appearance or a typical looking flat, the first thing visitors will notice is what they see when they step into the entrance. The sight of the entryway that welcomes you home every day can be treated by designers as a soft transition from outside to indoor, by adding plants or decorating the entrance with an artwork or sculpture.
Manager's room, driver's waiting zone are new space requirements on the ground floor for apartment buildings nowadays. Architects are working accordingly. A tiny suffocated space with the minimum opening for guards is an age-old practice. Guard's waiting space may be merged with the entrance hall, ensuring a humane attitude towards them.
Electrical wires, internet connection, telecommunication services are some inescapable services that need room on the ground floor. Hundreds of wires hanging together can be visually disconcerting. It demands designers' attention and should be placed in an orderly manner with non-transparent opaque separators - a common practice in modern apartment buildings.
Ducts coming from kitchens and toilets can be hidden using various techniques like hanging board ceiling, proper paneling, and sometimes, with wooden louvers. The ductwork can also be camouflaged with the wall or surrounded by proper treatment.And we have to put additional framing for HVAC and plumbing to draw the least possible eyes towards it.
Setting up the ground floor with trendy interior decorations and, at the same time, making sure all the basic utilities have been placed satisfactorily may add new glamour to the ground floor. All these functional changes, with a smooth visual impact for the residents, a ground floor will not just be a vacant space anymore.
In this regard, Architect Bhuiyan ARM Tareque from KENDRIK Architects says, "As mandatory service lines have to be accessible from the ground floor in order to receive connections from road level, they are now treated as design elements through landscaping and hanging layers of ceiling from the top. Such installations give the entry level a more welcoming and well-maintained look."
Hence the ground floor of the buildings will have a symbiotic relationship with walkways and streets if we create for a better-designed environment.