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a new housing model for multi-generational living

With the introduction of nursing homes and retirement communities, societies have segregated the senior generation away from the rest of the population. This segregation has eroded the living fabric of our society, leading to great voids in culture.

Today as the world population grows and the Baby-Boomer generation reaches retirement, the demand for housing for elders will radically increase. This offers an opportunity to re-think the model for housing for the elderly to match the desires of this active generation. The Multi-Generational Living Model can serve as a catalyst in blending families, students, elders, and young adults into a socially sustainable community.


how can you design dynamically changing housing?

The concept is based around the relationship of larger and smaller units. The larger units are designed to serve as a comfortable dwelling for families. The adjacencies are designed so that it can be, if desired, connected to a secondary smaller stand-alone apartment. This smaller apartment can either work as an isolated dwelling or can be connected to the adjacent larger family apartment.

This versatility is paramount to the success of any multigenerational housing model. With ageing residents, needs of those individuals change and the design must be able to adjust to the changing needs of the residents rather than architecture forcing the conformity of the residents. 

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Taking full advantage of the sun to promote healthy environments

As the proposed location for this housing model is in the city of Zurich, Switzerland, where the climate has freezing winter temperatures and mild summer temperatures, solar heating in the winter and passive cooling in the summer are clear methods to seek sustainable design.


Sun Diagram

Independant Masses

Divided Mass

Single Mass


Designing the massing of the site

The massing of the structure, therefore, should maximize solar gain whilst also creating a shared outdoor space. Through exploration of different massing, a single large massing on the northeastern side of the site provided the optimum design.


By integrating the structure into the earth and stepping down a full meter from the entry of an apartment to the exterior courtyard, additional solar gain can be utilized in family spaces


site plan

The arrangement of the apartments and the community center at the north end suggest an open gathering space centrally located to further instigate interaction among residents and to also include the element of nature in the site environment.

The major design moves for the site design are to include the natural elements of the surroundings. With the inclusion of the natural trees, grasses, and even sloping terrain, a healthy natural environment can be created.


FORMAL site design

Each building component is designed with a semi private patio, bounded spatially by an allee of trees that direct circulation flows towards the community center.



Walls are built with structural cross laminated timber, a material with low embodied energy and reduced on-site construction times


Large benches are incorporated into the sloped site to allow for seating as well as light and ventilation to the parking garage below.

Buildings should be good neighbors
— Paul Thiry