We have asked about the homes of merfolk and centaurs, but what about winged humans? Winged humanoids are rarely seen in fantasy and when they are, they tend to live in clouds or giant trees. The very, very few times they live in actual houses, the houses are exactly like human houses. Because they are sapient, we can assume that they have culture, and a desire for a comfortable life. A cloud or tree just isn't going to cut it. So what would a comfortable residence for a winged humanoid look like?

Some considerations that would seem to apply:

  • Winged humanoids arms are much longer than they are tall. Each wing being between 9 and 15 feet long.

  • My winged humanoids hands consists of two fingers and a thumb, they have more difficulty with drawers and handles.

  • They are an average of 5 feet tall with an average wingspan of 25 feet (their worlds gravity is lower so this body plan works)

  • They are not angels, they do not have both arms and wings.

  • Their legs are like that of chimps, more dexterous than human feet and shorter as they are not meant for long distance walking.

  • Furniture will be a problem as their tail feathers make it difficult to sit.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For this specific example, I assume that the 'hand' is located at roughly the halfway point on the wing? So about 50% of the 'wing' extends beyond where the hand is, but can be folded back...is that a fair assumption? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Also, not as robust of an answer as what you are looking for, but possibly related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/22670/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ So basically giant birds? What sort of legs do they have? Could they use tools with them, for example? Otherwise how will they build those homes/furniture? $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM, they do have more dexterous feet(which Ill edit into question) but they also have hands as guildsbounty said $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just a bit of an inconsistency in your post; you mention 'they're not angels' but then you state "....shorter as an angel is not meant..." I'm assuming the former, though future readers might not. Also, you mention that their arms are longer than they are tall. If that's the case, would it be feasible for them to walk on their hands and use their dexterous feet for manipulating things, or is that not possible with their body structure? $\endgroup$
    – user11426
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 22:13

4 Answers 4


Alright, here are some considerations that should be made. First, lets look at what this described biology actually looks like.

With your given body plan, there are two ways they could fold up their wings (yes, this is important). They could use the standard tri-fold pattern that birds use, which would result in them carrying their hands at their shoulders while 'resting.' Alternately, they could use a more human-like method and let their arms hang at their sides so that their 'hands' hang low, and fold the other half of their wings up alongside them. Whatever way they handle this...their arms are going to be long. Assuming an average humanoid shoulder width of 1.5 feet, this means that each wing averages about 11.75 feet long...meaning that the 'hand' on the wing can be fully extended from the body to a length of about 5'10", which is actually a longer reach than they are tall. Given this, they are more likely to carry their arms tucked up so that they can wrap the 'fingers' of their wings around themselves so they aren't dragging anything on the ground.

To give a quick explanation of why that was important...it is to show that using their arms will be very, very unwieldy in enclosed spaces. The distance between their elbow and wrist is, on average, 2'11"...which is a full 10" longer than the average length of a human's entire arm. Their 'arms' aren't going to be very useful for every day tasks.

So, now that we have that established...let's look at architecture.

The first thing I'd note is spaciousness. An average human needs around a 6' square space to fully extend their arms and stretch out. One of your flying humanoids needs a 25' space to properly stretch out. Birds are happy in tighter spaces because they don't just "hang out" at home and aren't too concerned about being able to spread out and be comfortable while at home. Assuming your avian-folk like to stretch out, I would expect their homes to have an extremely open floor plan intended to allow them space to move around. An ideal design would be to have enough space within their homes to be able to fly...but that would require an extremely large house, and would likely be limited to the wealthy.

I imagine that they would have some spaces that were tighter, for economical reasons, but I imagine every one of them would seek to have at least one room where they could actually stretch.

The second thing to note is that for exterior floor changes, stairs are unnecessary. You may have stairs inside of a building that is all a single unit (like a multi-floor house), but a multi-level apartment building would have no need for stairs as long as there was a large enough open space at each level for them to land on. In fact, outdoors (where space isn't a big deal and they can freely spread their wings) or in very large buildings, I'd imagine that elevation changes were simply handled by flight, rather than by stairs or ramps (with some allocation perhaps provided for those who cannot fly themselves due to injury or disability). Additionally, since it allows you to start off at a greater altitude, multi-floor buildings would be likely to have their entrances located off the ground level. Not only is this convenient if you are flying in (you don't have to go down as far to get in), but it is also great for keeping out a lot of pests that might otherwise enter through your doors. Perhaps even single-floor buildings would have their entrance on the roof, rather than at ground level.

As for interior design considerations...as was mentioned, their arms are unwieldy for most tasks and, as you mentioned, they have chimp-like feet. However, the construction of the 'hands' on their wings are likely to be better suited to delicate and precise work than the 'hands' that are their feet. As a result, we would probably see a split in design layouts based around this: The feet are used for grunt work and simple tasks like lifting, carrying, moving, fighting etc. and the hands are used for precision work such as sciences, crafting, and other things requiring finer dexterity than what their feet could offer. As a result: storage-type furniture would probably be located close to the ground, as would handle and grips for opening said cabinets, so that they can easily use their feet for managing these. But, storage for lighter, more precise things like tools could be positioned higher up where the arms and hands could easily get at them.

Workspaces would probably see a similar divide...you'd have some things positioned low to the ground for tasks that used their feet, and some things positioned at what we'd consider a more normal height (with plenty of space around them) for use with their hands. Tasks like kneading dough would be best handled by their feet as it makes use of the sturdier nature of their feet...and avoids getting dough in their feathers (another important consideration for them).

Given this division, we would also be more likely to see 'sinks' situated low to the ground where they could wash their feet more often to do clean work, like food prep that required more force.

Bathing areas would have to be expansive...to properly clean their wings, birds have to spread them out entirely and work over the entire wing. Baths would likely be more common for them than something like a shower as it is simply easier to manage cleaning feathers on standing water than it is by spraying water on the feathers (which are generally somewhat water resistant). Poorer people may only have baths large enough to wash one wing at a time, and even then may have to scrunch up a bit to fit...either way, their bathing spaces would be bigger than ours.

Given their tail feathers, as you mentioned, seating would have to be redesigned as well. There are two different ways you could handle this...

1: Their seating could be in the forms of cushions situated on the floor that they knelt on, much like how a bird 'sits.' This would bring any 'sitting' workstations down nearer the ground (more in line with the 'foot' spaces they would have).

2: A seat more like a traditional massage chair, but without the head rest. This allows them to sit down with their tail feathers hanging off the back of the chair, rest against the chest rest, and either set their feet normally on the ground, or tuck them up onto padded rests like that image has. This would keep their arm workspaces up off the ground, and also potentially allow them to sit at what would otherwise be a standing workspace.

I'll probably think of more of these later...but there's a good start for you.


The time period of my example below is somewhere in the near future.

Maybe the houses could be big dome shaped structures with lots of empty space. You'd enter from the roof (like landing on a helicopter pad).

If there are separating walls on the inside, they'll have doors without handles (the kind of doors that swing both ways just by pushing them). They'll have to be large enough that the humanoid can fold up its wings slightly and walk through.

Since cabinets and traditional storage aren't really an option, I'd probably want something where I can just stick stuff onto the walls (like some sort of magnetic fixtures).

If I was a winged humanoid, I'd probably want to sleep on a hammock (not one made out of a net though, because my feathers would get caught in it).

To bathe, I'd probably have a large pool at ground level that I can walk straight into.

Just a couple of ideas...


Assuming these winged-humanoids (I'll call them harpies from here on out) can fly, I would assume them to have much more "breathing room" for their wings. By this I mean they're not going to have telephone poles or electrical wires dangling about.

I doubt house interiors would be much different, save for some minor changes to the bathrooms - such as better facilities/more room for cleaning their wings - and possibly bedrooms, if they cannot lay down.

The outsides, however, would probably have steps, ladders, or "branches" of some sort to grasp and reach upwards, allowing themselves to climb or perch on the top of their dwelling. The entrance to the home may even be at the top, since all people should be able to reach the top. This could also help keep out potential predators - in the primitive stages of civilization - especially if the homes are up off the ground, and this style may even reach into the present-day.

I would envision houses to look rather normal, however, the door would be at the top, with a gazebo style roof (to protect from the elements), rather than having the door at the ground floor.

Garages would be common on the ground floor, for the traditional vehicle. If you're able to fly, however, a high reaching home would allow for gliding from place to place, and would be the most common form of travel, as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

I believe the homes would be built taller rather than wider, because that gives the people the height advantage for gliding and also takes less force to ascend. I also believe this would cause many more communal homes to spring up; more people living stacked on top of each other, rather than in human neighborhoods, means more height, and more height means less work for gliding. Because society would be built around flying and heights, there's also less chance of being 'stuck' in an area without a decent means of transportation. Stacking houses on top of each other also gives more ground room around them, allowing for gardens and so on.

You're also going to see more buildings made of wood, as their primitive ancestors would have taken residence in trees, much like birds of today naturally do. Utilizing what is familiar to them would be the natural direction for them to take.

The general 'look' of the dwellings would vary depending on the time period we're talking about;

Modern buildings wouldn't look much different, besides having more balconies to jump off from, and modern elevator systems for heavy goods.

Renaissance-era buildings would be more open. Castles would be non-existent, as the enemy armies could just fly over. You'd see more wooden-fort styled buildings, as the walls would be there to keep animals out. Open-air markets would be common, and pulley systems would be common.

Primitive buildings would be closer to tree houses and communes; A decent example would be the platforms on the forest moon of Endor(Ewok village) from the Star Wars movie (Return of the Jedi RoTJ Episode VI) Connect those with houses, and you'd have yourself small villages of these harpies.

Larger homes / apartments would emulate trees, having massive trunks and entrances along "branches" that would be similar to landing pads. They'd have an elevator system in the center, allowing the transport of heavy or large goods (or those who cannot fly), and each level would connect to a central ring 'hub' that has access to this elevator system.

Rich folks homes would be pretty much untouched as far as humanity/harpy are concerned. Rich humans tend to put their homes overlooking cities, are massive and extremely comfortable, and there'd be no difference for harpies. The middle-class would be a bit more impacted, generally living in more communal areas, while the desperately poor would tend to beggar at the base of those communes (inconvenience of having to take the long elevator to the top means less money for the apartment!).

I could go on if you'd like, though I think I've rambled a bit too much.


Cliffs and large caves would be ideal dwelling places, since they shelter you from bad weather or harsh sunlight, and they can both be entered without having to use doors or curtains, which would get tangly.

Additionally, in both cases, the building of tables or other furniture could be custom-carved from the stone as it sits. Generally, in large birds, the legs are a rather robust tool (picturing an eagle here) and have considerable strength. This should allow them to use tools, using their wing-hands to stabilize them as they do. These hands would be particularly effective for stability, given how long their arms are.

Basic furniture would likely be akin to "perches" or other bar-like structures which would be easy and comfortable to grab with their feet and hold their weight for extended periods of time.

You mentioned that they would have a desire for a comfortable life, rather than living like animals. Below is, I think, a nice example of such a home. You'll have to use your imagination to replace the chairs with more appropriate furniture, of course. enter image description here


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