Doroteya Trifonova

Architecture with Urban Planning RIBA Part 2 MArch (Hons)

Living above the shop – The notion of the Victorian Shophouse Tenement as a modern domestic standard and a tool to build resilient neighbourhoods.


Profile photo of Doroteya Trifonova

Living in a unit above the shop is a common phenomenon in contemporary city centres. Often overlapping with conservation areas and overshadowed by vibrant shopfronts its domestic purpose sets a step back. Impacting the communal presence of central areas, it questions life after closing hours. The high demand for adequate housing in inner cities opens a gap between availability and affordability, leaving cities and communities in despair.

Overlapping the shophouse concept and the program of the Victorian Tenement, the domestic model negotiates the communal active life between the two faces – Front and Rear Facades. Creating vertical streets and overarching elements, the urban block becomes an ideal setting for the resilient neighbourhood of an intimate scale. 

Programming the space to foster diversity and inclusivity, the project follows the layered privacy of the unit and the importance of designed activity nodes in the circulation space. Revolving around the significance of daily life, it explores a slice of the urban block as a self-sustainable environment to build a central presence and communal identity. 

Exploring internal spatial order, advancement of circulation spaces and the potential of roof spaces as quality outdoor space, it reimagines the dynamics of the household in a dense central context. 

Inhabiting the city is not merely the goal of rejuvenation; it’s to allow flexibility for change, room for people to celebrate daily life, and communities to flourish.

Architect's drawing of living space above shop unit