Housing estate

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A housing estate in Camden Town, London, with two blocks of flats visible London MMB 76 Granby Terrace.jpg
A housing estate in Camden Town, London, with two blocks of flats visible

A housing estate (or sometimes housing complex or housing development) is a group of homes and other buildings built together as a single development. The exact form may vary from country to country.


Popular throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, they are often areas of high-density, low-impact residences of single-family detached homes and often allow for separate ownership of each housing unit, for example through subdivision.

In major Asian cities such as Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore, Seoul, and Taiwan, an estate may range from detached houses to high-density tower blocks with or without commercial facilities; in Europe and America, these may take the form of town housing, high-rise housing projects, or the older-style rows of terraced houses associated with the industrial revolution, detached or semi-detached houses with small plots of land around them forming gardens, and are frequently without commercial facilities and such.

In Central and Eastern Europe, living in housing estates is a common way of living. Most of these housing estates originated during the communist era because the construction of large housing estates was an important part of building plans in communist countries in Europe. They can be located in suburban and urban areas.

Accordingly, a housing estate is usually built by a single contractor, with only a few styles of house or building design, so they tend to be uniform in appearance.

A housing development is "often erected on a tract of land by one builder and controlled by one management." [1] In the British Isles, the term is quite broad and can include anything from high-rise government-subsidised housing right through to more upmarket, developer-led suburban tract housing. Such estates are usually designed to minimise through-traffic flows and provide recreational space in the form of parks and greens.


The use of the term may[ original research? ] have arisen from an area of housing being built on what had been a country estate as towns and cities expanded in and after the 19th century. It was in use by 1901. [2] Reduction of the phrase to mere "estate" is common in the United Kingdom and Ireland (especially when preceded by the specific estate name), but not in the United States.

Housing types

There are several different housing types: [3] Each of the different housing types will have their distinctive characteristics, density ranges, number of units, and floors. [3]


Hong Kong

Due to dense population and government control of land use, the most common form of residential housing in Hong Kong is the high-rise housing estate, which may be publicly owned, privately owned, or semi-private. Due to the oligopoly of real-estate developers in the territory, and the economies of scale of mass developments, there is the tendency of new private tower block developments with 10 to over 100 towers, ranging from 30 to 70 stories high.

Public housing provides affordable homes for those on low incomes, with rents which are heavily subsidised, financed by financial activities such as rents and charges collected from car parks and shops within or near the estates. They may vary in scale, and are usually located in the remote or less accessible parts of the territory, but urban expansion has put some of them in the heart of the urban area. Although some units are destined exclusively for rental, some of the flats within each development are earmarked for sale at prices that are lower than for private developments.

Private housing estates are usually characterised by a cluster of high-rise buildings, often with a shopping centre or market of its own in the case of larger developments. Mei Foo Sun Chuen, built by Mobil, is the earliest (1965) and largest (99 blocks) example of its kind. Since the mid-1990s, private developers have been incorporating leisure facilities, including clubhouse facilities, [4] namely swimming pools, tennis courts, and function rooms in their more up-market developments. The most recent examples would also be equipped with cinemas, dance studios, cigar-rooms.

There is currently some controversy over the "wall effect" caused by uniform high-rise developments, which adversely affect air circulation. [5] In-fill developments will tend to be done by smaller developers with less capital. These will be smaller in scale, and less prone to the wall effect.


Given the security situation and power shortages in the South Asia, 'gated communities' with self-generated energy and modern amenities (24-hour armed security, schools, hospitals, a fire department, retail shopping, restaurants and entertainment centres ) such as Bahria Town and DHA have been developed in all major Pakistani cities. Bahria Town is the largest private housing society in Asia. [6] Bahria has been featured by international magazines and news agencies such as GlobalPost, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times and Emirates 24/7, referred to as the prosperous face of Pakistan. [7] [8] [9] [10] Gated communities in Pakistan are targeted towards upper middle class and upper class, and are mostly immune from problems of law enforcement.


Czech Republic and Slovakia

Petrzalka in Bratislava (Slovakia) Bratislava Petrzalka R01.jpg
Petržalka in Bratislava (Slovakia)

Forms of housing estates may vary in Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the former Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) during the communist era in Czechoslovakia, a construction of large housing estates (Czech: sídliště, Slovak: sídlisko ) was an important part of building plans in the former Czechoslovakia. The government wanted to provide large quantities of fast and affordable housing and to slash costs by employing uniform designs over the whole country. They also sought to foster a "collectivist nature" in people. People living in these housing estates can either usually own their apartments or rent them, usually through a private landlord. There's usually a mix of social classes in these housing estates. [11]

Most buildings in Czech and Slovakian housing estates are so called "paneláks", a colloquial term in Czech and Slovak for a panel building constructed of pre-fabricated, pre-stressed concrete, such as those extant in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and elsewhere in the world. Large housing estates of concrete panel buildings (paneláks) now dominate the streets of Prague, Bratislava and other towns. The largest housing estate central Europe and Slovakia can be found in Petržalka (population about 130,000), a part of the Slovak capital of Bratislava.

United Kingdom and Ireland

Broadwater Farm Estate in London. Civil unrest in 1985 left two dead. BWFE from Gloucester Road.JPG
Broadwater Farm Estate in London. Civil unrest in 1985 left two dead.
Redcastle Furze, Thetford, Norfolk Redcastle Furze, housing estate, Thetford, Norfolk.jpg
Redcastle Furze, Thetford, Norfolk

In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, housing estates have become prevalent since World War II, as a more affluent population demanded larger and more widely spaced houses coupled with the increase of car usage for which terraced streets were unsuitable.

Housing estates were produced by either local authorities (more recently, housing associations) or by private developers. The former tended to be a means of producing public housing leading to monotenure estates full of council houses often known as "council estates". The latter can refer to higher end tract housing for the middle class and even upper middle class.

The problems incurred[ clarification needed ] by the early attempts at high density tower-block housing turned people away from this style of living. The resulting demand for land has seen many towns and cities increase in size for relatively moderate increases in population. This has been largely at the expense of rural and greenfield land.[ citation needed ] Recently, there has been some effort to address this problem by banning the development of out-of-town commercial developments and encouraging the reuse of brownfield or previously developed sites for residential building. Nevertheless, the demand for housing continues to rise, and in the UK at least has precipitated a significant housing crisis.

United States

Forms of housing estates in the United States include tract housing, apartment complexes, and public housing.

See also

Related Research Articles

High-rise building Tall building; as opposed to a low-rise building

A high-rise building is a tall building, as opposed to a low-rise building and is defined differently in terms of height depending on the jurisdiction. It is used as a residential, office building, or other functions including hotel, retail, or with multiple purposes combined. Residential high-rise buildings are also known in some varieties of English, such as British English, as tower blocks and may be referred to as "MDUs", standing for "multi-dwelling unit". A very tall high-rise building is referred to as a skyscraper.

Apartment Self-contained housing unit occupying part of a building

An apartment, or flat, is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building, generally on a single story. 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, to tenants renting from a private landlord.

Gated community

In its modern form, a gated community is a form of residential community or housing estate containing strictly controlled entrances for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles, and often characterized by a closed perimeter of walls and fences. Similar walls and gates have separated quarters of some cities for centuries. Gated communities usually consist of small residential streets and include various shared amenities. For smaller communities, these amenities may include only a park or other common area. For larger communities, it may be possible for residents to stay within the community for most daily activities. Gated communities are a type of common interest development, but are distinct from intentional communities.

Townhouse Individual urban house in a terrace or row

A townhouse, townhome, town house, or town home, is a type of terraced housing. A modern townhouse is often one with a small footprint on multiple floors. In a different British usage, the term originally referred to any type of city residence of someone whose main or largest residence was a country house.

A semi-detached house is a single family duplex dwelling house that shares one common wall with the next house. The name distinguishes this style of house from detached houses, with no shared walls, and terraced houses, with a shared wall on both sides. Often, semi-detached houses are built as pairs in which each house's layout is a mirror image of the other's.

A condominium is a building structure divided into several units that are each separately owned, surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned.

Terraced house Form of medium-density housing

In architecture and city planning, a terrace or terraced house (UK) or townhouse (US) is a form of medium-density housing that originated in Europe in the 16th century, whereby a row of attached dwellings share side walls. In the United States they are known as row houses or row homes, found in older cities such as Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Panelák is a colloquial term in Czech and Slovak for a panel building constructed of pre-fabricated, pre-stressed concrete, such as those extant in the former Czechoslovakia and elsewhere in the world. Paneláks are usually located in housing estates.

Duplex (building)

A duplex house plan has two living units attached to each other, either next to each other as townhouses, condominiums or above each other like apartments. By contrast, a building comprising two attached units on two distinct properties is typically considered semi-detached or twin homes but is also called a duplex in parts of the Northeastern United States.

Cottage flat

Cottage flats, also known as four-in-a-block flats, are a style of housing common in Scotland, where there are single floor dwellings at ground level, and similar dwellings on the floor above. All have doors directly to the outside of the building, rather than into a 'close', or common staircase, although some do retain a shared entrance. The name 'cottage flats' is confusing as before the mid-1920s cottage housing referred to a single house, normally semi-detached which contained living accommodation downstairs and bedrooms above. These were phased out by most urban local authorities as wasteful of space and economy after central government subsidies were reduced in the 1924 Housing Act.

Defence Housing Authority

Defence Housing Authority (DHA) is a real-estate development company that governs housing and municipal services for Defence neighbourhoods across Pakistan. It is the second largest gated community in Pakistan, after Bahria Town. It has a number of gated communities in many cities of Pakistan.

Multifamily residential is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units for residential inhabitants are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex. Units can be next to each other, or stacked on top of each other. A common form is an apartment building. Many intentional communities incorporate multifamily residences, such as in cohousing projects. Sometimes units in a multifamily residential building are condominiums, where typically the units are owned individually rather than leased from a single apartment building owner.

Secondary suite

Secondary suites, or accessory dwelling units, ADUs, or in-law apartments, are self-contained apartments, cottages, or small residential units, that are located on a property that has a separate main, single-family home, duplex, or other residential unit. In some cases, the ADU or in-law is attached to the principal dwelling or is an entirely separate unit, located above a garage or in the backyard on the same property. In British English the term "annex" or granny annex is used instead. Reasons for wanting to add a secondary suite to a property may be to receive additional income, provide social and personal support to a family member, or obtain greater security.

A housing unit, or dwelling unit, is a structure or the part of a structure or the space that is used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one person or more people who maintain a common household.

Medium-density housing

Medium-density housing is a term typically used within Australian and New Zealand professional and academic literature to refer to a category of residential development that falls between detached suburban housing and multi-story apartments. In Australia the density of standard suburban residential areas has traditionally been between 8-15 dwellings per hectare. In New Zealand medium-density development is defined as four or more units with an average density of less than 350m2. Medium density housing can range from about 25 to 80 dwellings per hectare, although most commonly sits around 30 and 40 dwellings/hectare. Such developments typically consist of semi-attached and multi-unit housing and low-rise apartments. In the United States medium-density housing is usually referred to as middle-sized or cluster development that fits between neighborhoods with single family homes and high-rise apartments. This kind of development is usually intended to bridge the gap between low- and high-density neighborhoods. Because this kind of housing refers to density specifically, the type of building or number of units can vary from location to location. Medium-density housing in America has historically been perceived as undesirable due to the affordable nature of the housing that attracts low-income residents, and its perceived breach on the established suburban lifestyle. The various styles of housing that fall under medium-density housing are now being considered as more sustainable development options to help solve the housing crisis in America.

Bahria Town (Private) Limited is a Islamabad-based privately owned real-estate development company which owns, develops and manages properties across Pakistan.

Missing middle housing describes a range of multi-family or clustered housing types that are compatible in scale with single-family or transitional neighborhoods. Missing middle housing is intended to meet the demand for walkable neighborhoods, respond to changing demographics, and provide housing at different price points. The term "missing middle" is meant to describe housing types that were common in the pre-WWII United States such as duplexes, rowhomes, and courtyard apartments but are now less common and, therefore, "missing". Rather than focusing on the number of units in a structure, missing middle housing emphasizes scale and heights that are appropriate for single-family neighborhoods or transitional neighborhoods. After the introduction of the term in 2010, the concept has been applied in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, buildings or housing in general.


Sídlisko is a term used in Slovak and it mainly means housing estate. Other meanings associated with this term are housing project, housing development, or neighborhood. In these housing projects, apartment buildings are built all over, and most of them are known as paneláks. Most paneláks were built during the communist era in the former Czechoslovakia, and most of them were built as grey apartment blocks. Such buildings remain in these housing projects and most of them are being gentrified and painted vibrant colors as of today. These housing projects can be found in urban areas, as well as in suburban areas. These housing projects were built to provide fast and affordable housing. These housing projects are usually not considered to be crime-ridden areas or ghettos, except for the Roma slums such as Luník IX. People living in these housing projects usually own their apartments, but some also rent them, usually through a private landlord. Most of these housing projects are mixed in terms of social classes.

Single-family zoning is a type of zoning in the United States that restricts development to only allow single-family detached homes. It prevents townhomes, duplexes, and multi-family housing (apartments) from being built on any plot of land with this zoning designation. It is a form of exclusionary zoning, and was created as a way to keep minorities out of white neighborhoods.


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  2. "housing estate" . Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.). Note the example in a 1923 book by Francis Longstreth Thompson, Site planning in practice; an investigation of the principles of housing estate development.
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