Residential Design – Multi-generational housing

North Elevation with common entry
North Elevation with shared entry

Hello again readers,
This is a type of housing that I feel will become more prevalent in the coming years. The poor economy, and lack of credit have forced the younger generation to live at home longer. Similarly, our parents’ generation is approaching or at the age where senior housing/assisted living options become a concern. New homes and assisted living options are both incredibly expensive and are really only an option for the very wealthy. This design attempts to address the needs of both of these age groups with housing that each can grow into. I designed a 2 unit complex that shares a common garage and outdoor/pool area while maintaining two separate and private living quarters for both generations. The larger unit has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths while the smaller unit has 1 bedroom and 1.5 baths. Both units share a common wall in the kitchen for displaying kitchen wares/china but this wall is separated via lightly frosted glass.

I designed the smaller unit to be completely handicapped accessible with the intention of it being used by the senior set. All living spaces are on a single floor, as well as making the primary bath wheel chair accessible if the occupants ever ended up being wheel chair bound. I also designed a grab bar/chair rail that runs around the perimeter of the apartment to assist the aged should they get unsteady on their feet. This designed solution looks much better than those institutional grab bars you see in most public rest rooms today. The only stairs in the smaller unit go down to the basement garage (there is the option for an elevator in this unit as well if those stairs become unmanageable). By keeping a visual connection to the kitchen space from the other unit, the younger generation can also sort of keep tabs on the aging parents as kitchens are where most accidents with the elderly happen (i.e. unattended stoves).

The larger unit is as a big as a normal house and can accommodate the younger children who may be starting a family and need the room to grow. The larger house opens up onto the outdoor pool and is very light and airy from all of the skylights and light wells designed into the house. This dwelling has a first floor master bedroom with the children’s bedrooms upstairs that share a common deck. Special features include an eat in kitchen with its own pizza oven, a separate study off the master bedroom, a bar area, and a separate tv alcove for watching movies. The in-ground pool has its own bathroom/changing area as well, so the swimmers don’t have to go inside to wash off/change.

In terms of design methodologies used, I started with a series of L-shaped walls and a single common wall shared by both units. As the design developed a zig-zag pattern began to emerge which served to delineate the boundaries between the two units. This design was the follow up to an earlier iteration that had both units connected. I will feature that design in a future post.

In summary, this multi-generational housing offers lots of possibilities for both the young and the old. It allows the aged to maintain their independence longer or it can be used to generate rental income for the young set to allow them to live in the house of their dreams without having to wait till their retirement years to afford it.

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3 thoughts on “Residential Design – Multi-generational housing”

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