ARCKIT Model 40

Featuring Danielle Waters

Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space … On the one hand it’s about shelter, but it’s also about pleasure.
— Zaha Hadid

Project Details

Here, I present Arckit Model 40, a Modular Apartment Design. Danielle and I began this project by discussing the architectural implications of social housing projects and the ideas around small living spaces. As we explored design strategies for highly dense or urban areas, the overarching concepts that surfaced were to...

  • Include modular layouts that separate spaces without building walls

    • Use small partitions ora furniture layout to break up the programming, while maintaining the sense of a large open plan

    • Represent dual-purpose and mobile furniture with pieces that fit the scale of the space

  • Achieve an abundance of natural lighting and outdoor exposure

  • Provide access to community or extended spaces by choosing place over space, where the city or other surrounding becomes part of the home

Gathering all these ideas, we quickly drew out and modelled small modules (~250 sq. ft.) that would serve as single-living units for one or two people. Settling on a 16X16 foot module to try out, we created an open plan of 256 sq. ft. Of these, 16 sq. ft. would be used for a bathroom, 32 sq. ft. for an outdoor patio/deck and the remaining 208 sq. ft. for an open room comprising a kitchen, dining area, living area, and bedroom.

Using the Arckit 4X4 plates, we proceeded to model this plan, testing out various wall/window configurations to admit in enough light, while maintaining a sense of privacy. Using a simple solar orientation study, a ratio of one window for every four walls allowed sufficent light to enter the room. No matter the configuration we swapped out four of the 16 walls with windows.

After building a total of six modules, we doubled them up side by side and then stacked them to create a building with the dimensions of 1X2X3 modules. We then placed this entire structure on a large base plate, and built an exterior staircase along the side of the structure with paths to each door. Extending beyond the 3rd floor to the roof, the stairs lead to a covered rooftop balcony.

Overall, this was a fantastic project that opened up many possibilities for future models. This type of architecture, which meets the needs of the people without looking generic and "cookie cutter," will become more important in the future, as  modular structures begin populating the urban landscape.

Photo Gallery

Video Documentation


Danielle Waters is a full-time senior student at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has earned an AA degree and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. Her career interests are environmental sustainability, historical preservation, and residential design.

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below or through email to