There is More to the Villa Lifestyle than Size!

There is More to the Villa Lifestyle than Size!


Understanding why the villa lifestyle is so attractive can be a major selling point. I am often asked about the detached villa lifestyle by clients in China.  What qualities are important? How can we give apartments or townhomes the villa lifestyle? What are the rules?


Surveys show again and again that 75%-80% of buyers want a detached villa if given the choice of all the different home types.  It seems to me this is human nature. Builders understand this and look for ways to use it as a marketing advantage which is why I frequently get the questions about villas.


China is unique in that the giant population makes detached housing less practical than it would be in the US where we have a lot of land and far fewer people. Regulations discourage or outright forbid detached homes,  which is understandable.  But the reality is buyers will still aspire to this housing type and if builders understand why it is so desirable they can design elements into their communities and capture sales.

Years ago I was touring an apartment project and the sales person was telling me about the villa qualities of the design. The units were larger which I assume was meant to relate to the larger space typical in a villa. Then I noticed the windows were small and had a tall sill height. Not much light compared to other apartments I visited.  I was told this was a “feature” found in villa architecture. Wow, the designer clearly didn’t understand what it is about detached homes that make them so desirable.


So what is it that makes detached villas a pinnacle of the housing pyramid? There is the practical answer, such as more space and storage or more light and fresh air. But the truth is we decide to buy based on emotion and then justify our decision with logic and the practical. For example, Mercedes buyers want the symbol of success and to feel like they have the best. Yes it is true a Mercedes has great engineering and are safe but so is a Toyota or Volvo. It is the emotions and how we feel owning a Mercedes that is the real reason we buy.

Ownership and Individuality

The key quality of a detached villa that we all want is the feeling of total ownership and individuality. Think about this.  A villa is a building on a piece of land away from neighbors.  It can express who you are and is yours alone. You make the rules. There is a saying that “A man’s house is his castle” which emphasizes the principle that with a house we can do as we please and we are secure.


Here is a list of some of the qualities villas have that create the feeling of ownership and individuality.

  1. No shared walls with neighbors.
  2. Focus on privacy and safety.
  3. Ground level outdoor space to use as you wish.
  4. Private parking and storage. No more open parking lots shared with neighbors.
  5. Ability to change as needed. If we want to expand the floor plan or change the exterior you can.
  6. Less surrounding noise from neighbors and the owner can make more!
  7. Symbol to others that you have success.
  8. The entry is only for you.


A few years ago we designed a hillside community in Hangzhou where we included some of these ideas. It was a two story townhome project with an FAR of 0.5. There are many examples of rigid rows of efficient townhomes but on this site we wanted to stand out and give the owners that sense of ownership and individuality.

The overall form has a lot of movement and each unit is shaped make it individual. From the exterior each home is clearly defined and has the feeling of a detached villa, each with its own charming entry. While the homes are attached, the connection is very limited and only one story in height. This allows the second floors and roof to remain separate enhancing the sense of the villa. Your home is identifiable.

Parking is below ground and in a private and personal garage. Each has a door for privacy and security.

Each home has a floor plan that wraps around its own personal ground level outdoor living space.  Here the privacy is important.  Since the density requires neighbors nearby, we carefully designed window locations and privacy walls to protect each home.

There are a variety of home types in each building and each has it’s own shape.  While the exterior style is consistent and uses the unique theme we call Classical Prairie, the variety in floor plans and great attention to making each unit expressive enhances the villa qualities the market wants.

These are just a few of the possibilities to design with villa strategies.


If you would like to know more download our CustomLuxe guide to learn how to achieve great  design with WA360.



John Bigot

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