A residence is one of the first projects any architecture student is asked to design as part of the curriculum, as a residence is one of the first examples of architecture we all see and so many of us are fortunate to live in. Residential projects may seem very easy to comprehend and design, but the various types of residences that are in use today and the different user groups they are targeted towards make it a vast topic, something that requires huge amounts of research to design. 

Choosing a residential project as a thesis topic in the final year of B.Arch. would be like coming full circle – applying all the knowledge you have gained in the last five years on the very first project typology you were taught to design.

So, here are 20 thesis topics related to residential typology that any architecture student can take up.

1. Mixed-Use Buildings | Residential Design

With the global pandemic forcing people to stay confined in their houses, the development of mixed-use buildings with residential, commercial and office spaces all in one place will help with similar circumstances in the future. A student would need to do extensive research on how to properly combine all different places and the purposes they serve to create a building that fulfils functionality and is also aesthetically pleasing. 

Mixed-use buildings as a thesis topic will help a student when they start working because of its huge potential as a future trend in architecture.

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2. Vertical Housing

With the increasing population and declining availability of open land, vertical housing is one of the best solutions available to tackle the requirements of the current and future generations. Vertical housing is residential buildings where architects arrange spaces vertically instead of horizontally, to create more units in a smaller footprint. 

These buildings also contain community areas and green spaces interspersed with the residential units to encourage people to be more social and not stay confined in their high-rise apartments.  

Using this as a thesis topic will be extremely beneficial as there are high chances of designing similar projects when students start professionally practising after getting their degrees.

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3. Community living | Residential Design

One of the first markers of human beings settling down and becoming civilized is when they started living in communities with individual houses and common spaces for gathering. Since then, human beings have always preferred to live in a society. 

Be it apartment complexes with high-rise buildings, or housing estates with horizontal, community living in urban areas are a topic that can be taken up as a thesis project related to residential use. Community living will help one understand how to design spaces that can be used by different people to live together in harmony.

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(3A)(Savonnerie Heymans Public Housing, Brussels)(@archdaily.com).jpg
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4. Row Houses

Row houses are defined as a series of houses connected through common sidewalls. They are a great way to build individual houses in smaller areas and with lesser materials, making them cheaper. 

Row houses might already be in use in the  USA and European countries, but they have huge potential in third-world countries and in places like India where there is a space crunch issue, making them a good thesis topic under the residential typology.

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Residential Design-4B_Design Distinction In Each House_©pinterest.com
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4C_Houses By The Canal_©velvetescape.com

5. Tiny Houses | Residential Design

These are houses that have a total area of less than 400 ft2 or 37 m2 and are a good alternative to traditional houses when the available open land is smaller than average. Tiny houses have a wide variety of design considerations and this leads to innovative spaces that are multifunctional and furniture that is multi-purpose. 

Compacting a whole house in an area that is less than 400 ft2 is a challenge that will help thesis students in designing residential areas in the future, as the availability of free land is reducing every day.

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5A_microHOUSE, USA, by Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design_©dezeen.com
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5C_Interior View_©pinterest.co.kr

6. Shipping Container Homes

20 ft or 40 ft steel containers that have been used to carry different types of goods in ships can be used as a readymade or prefabricated skeleton to build a house. These homes are a good way to re-purpose shipping containers that have been abandoned or thrown away and are easier and faster to build as the exterior structure is already available. 

The containers can be stacked vertically or horizontally to create everything from tiny houses to mansions. Shipping container homes are an intriguing and unique residential thesis topic for students.

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6A_Grillagh Water House By Patrick Bradley_©ei.house
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Residential Design-6B_Situated Amidst Nature_©archdaily.com
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6C_Latticed Network Of Windows_©pb-architects.com

7. Yurts

Yurts are portable houses consisting of a latticework of wood or bamboo covered by a round tent and have been the traditional houses for many tribes in central Asia, especially in Mongolia. Yurts are a unique aspect of vernacular architecture that can be adapted in different climates around the world with the use of more modern materials like steel for the latticework and insulating fabrics for the tent. 

Yurts as a residential thesis topic will give students a different look in a sustainable and vernacular approach to designing. 

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7A_Zion Backcountry Yurt_©airbnb.co.in
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Residential Design-7B_A Architecture That Feels Like A Part Of Nature_©zionguru.com
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7C_Wooden Latticework Creating A Aesthetic Interior_©pinterest.co

8. Earthships | Residential Design

Pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds, Earthships are a type of passive solar earth shelter that is built with both natural and up-cycled materials. These residential units are structures built on the principle that the six human needs of energy, garbage management, sewage treatment, shelter, clean water and food can be met through environmentally sustainable building design. 

Earthships are intended to be simple, “off-the-grid” homes with minimal dependence on fossil fuels and public utilities and can be constructed by people with little building knowledge. The scope of Earthships as self-sustainable and ecological single-family residences is huge and something that can be taken up by architecture students for their final year thesis.

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8A_Brighton Earthship, U.K._©jamesednaycox.wordpress.com
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Residential Design-8B_Greenhouse On The Inside_©cherrymortgages.com
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8C_Walls Made Of Upcycled Glass Bottles_©pinterest.com

9. Cob Houses

These are houses built of clay, sand and straw that are recyclable and non-polluting when demolished. Cob houses are inexpensive, energy-efficient houses suitable for hot climates that are also extremely durable and earthquake-resistant. 

Even though these types of houses have traditionally been user-built, an architect’s perspective will help in enhancing its ecological and sustainable features and lead to better planning and usability of spaces. Cob houses should be explored as a thesis topic in the residential typology.

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9A_Laughing House – Cob House_©homecrux.com
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Residential Design-9B_Walls Made Of Straw, Sand and Clay_©homecrux.com
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9C_Interior Detailings_©homecrux.com

10. Cave houses | Residential Design

Caves served as the very first human dwellings – they served as a shelter against natural calamities and wild animals. In recent years, cave dwellings have made a comeback, in the form of carving contemporary houses inside existing caves. These houses contain contemporary elements like doors and windows, modern electrical and bathroom fittings and also connections to public utilities and “off-the-grid” options for the same. 

Designing cave houses is a challenge because one has to carve out different rooms in accordance with the inside of the cave and major changes cannot be done to the structure of the cave. Cave houses provide the option to utilize existing natural shelter formations instead of disrupting green areas, and hence are a good residential topic for the thesis as they are becoming more popular.

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10A_Cave Palace Ranch,Utah_©offgridworld.com
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10C_Cave Interiors_©offgridworld.com
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Ipshita Seth has been in love with words for as long she can remember and now that she's studying Architecture, she's found a new love for writing about designing spaces, history of buildings, construction technologies and everything else that comes with them. She has joined RTF to give words to her dreams.