Multi-Generational Housing: Three Homes, One Family on a Single Street

Multi-Generational Housing for Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials

Hi, I’m Jan Hogarth from PlaceMate Architects and today’s example is something we’re seeing more and more of, which is multi-generational housing.


Today we’ve got a pretty extreme example of multi-generational housing where we’ve got the same family living in the same street in three different houses that are designed for the grandparents (Boomers), a parent (Gen-X), and the grandkids (Millenials). In each of these houses, they all want privacy from the street and openness. So that’s a theme that runs through this family. They really like to get together as a family, so that there are open spaces where they can be together and be apart. And the interesting thing is, in each home, the house can be lived in in different ways throughout time. So there’s a duality about it. So that we can design the house so that different age groups can move through this. It’s taking a very long-term view about the attitudes towards property.

And I’ll just illustrate multi-generational housing. Here’s the first house we did, which is for the grandparents. Now, they’ve moved in from acreage, so they’ve used to a very large house. This house is much smaller, but they wanted the same level of privacy they had on acreage in the suburbs. So you can see that the entry is quite tucked away and the living areas, there’s a big garden behind there, but you can’t see. So here’s the second house. Again, we’ve got a, this is a family home. There’s teenagers and other kids in the house. And again, they’ve got privacy from the street, but they’ve got a big open courtyard and open-plan living areas.

Here’s the third house, which was done for two grandsons, but it can also function as a single house. They, again, have privacy from the street, separate entries and living areas that open, one opens at the front to the view and the other one is at the back into the back garden. Family, open spaces, tons of room and height for living areas. Huge kitchen with lots of space. I call this the command-and-control island bench. This is Grandma’s island bench. And behind the fridge, there’s a big butler’s pantry. And you can see we’ve got huge doors out onto an outdoor living area and there’s a big barbecue there with an industrial strength exhaust so that the whole gang can hang out at this house. And this is their living area here. All these doors open up. Here’s the second house. It’s got the kitchen with the big high space, lots of light coming in. On this end here, there’s a family room that looks out over the street. It can be used as a guest wing. It can be used as a TV room. It can be a sewing room, whatever. And on the other end of this bridge that looks out over the living room, there’s bedrooms. Here’s another shot of that space. So you get this tremendous openness into a courtyard. Butler’s pantry behind. Again, the whole family can be here, or not. Right, this is the two kitchens in the third house. And again, it’s at a smaller scale, but you can see it’s all open and flowing. They’re quite private places, which look out into light open spaces.

But here’s the summary of this whole idea about these three houses as an example of multi-generational housing.

This is a family home. It’s designed for mum, dad, and kids, to live here with teenagers. Here’s the pool and the living areas. You can have an outdoor living area and an indoor area. You can live in multiple different ways. And this area here, games room, teenager downstairs area with a bit of a kitchenette. Two bedrooms down here. And there’s a bathroom in there as well. But it’s also designed so that if something happened to Grandpa, Grandma can move into this as its own flat. This could be her living room. She can have a study and a bedroom in there as well. And it’s all on one level so that she’s got full accessibility. Also works for boomerang children. You know, the ones who leave home and then come back again. This can work as a downstairs flat. It could work as a business. There’s this flexibility in the design spaces.

All three of the homes in this example of multi-generational housing have this kind of long-term view about the way that a family will move and change and morph through their complicated lives. This kind of vision that families have that they share in each other’s lives, we’re seeing more and more and more of it as families have to support each other financially and emotionally. I really look forward to seeing how these houses change over time. They’re such an interesting group of people and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

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