12 Sep Intergenerational housing
Intergenerational housing, where several generations live together in the same house or building, is an alternative “solution” to retirement homes which is starting to catch on with various property development programmes (in Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, Cergy, etc.), but that needs to continue to be encouraged in collective building projects to meet growing needs. These 2 examples of detached houses which return to a way of living that has been forgotten with the shrinking of the nuclear family, embrace a warmer and friendlier aesthetic than might be expected from a nursing home.
This renovation project involved renovating an old two-storey wood house in Tokyo so that 4 generations could live together, including a young couple with their son, the parents of the owner, and her grandmother. In addition to reinforcing the building structure, increasing natural light and improving ventilation, the architect sought to encourage connections between generations through the various shared spaces, based on the house-share model, together with individual private areas.
This building is located on a narrow plot, and includes 2 independent units, one for parents and grandparents, and the other for children and grandchildren. The common areas between the two dwellings (cellar, larder/laundry room and upstairs terrace) create a kind of interface that maintain sound insulation and privacy, and facilitate internal flow within the building on the ground and the first floor. In order to take into account the needs of the various residents, bedroom types vary from master suites for parents and people with reduced mobility to a kind of boat cabin dormitory for the children.
The hybrid use trend is starting to break into new property development projects, bringing different groups of people together and creating a rich social and generational mix. Le Village Saint-Michel has just been inaugurated on the site of the former hospital of the same name in the 15th arrondissement of Paris as part of the new City of Paris disability-friendly, inclusion and universal accessibility strategy. The architects developed an intergenerational mixed project covering around 30,000 m², including 211 units used for social housing or home ownership support schemes, a nursery, nursing home, and several medical and social facilities.
Every year, the Caisse Nationale de Solidarite pour l’Autonomie (CNSA) runs a competition for students asking them to come up with innovative living spaces. In 2017, the theme is nursing homes of the future (collective living spaces for vulnerable people in 2018). Two of the winning projects this year include new concepts that demonstrate the creativity of students and offer real ways to improve nursing homes.
The best new idea prize was awarded to a community project made up of four small 20 or 30-unit homes spread over several villages within a single administrative region (Corbières en Méditerranée in the département of Aude). Each village manages part of the general operation of the institution, such as medical care with community nurses, laundry, pharmacy, or meal service.
Pooling administrative, medical and external skills and the small scale of buildings promotes well-being at home and offers a more encouraging perspective of old age.
Special mention went to students who wanted to make the retirement home an attractive space by setting up a greenhouse on a neighbouring former industrial wasteland. The greenhouse would create a new place for exchange and sharing connected with the city, and is intended to be accessible to local residents (families, schoolchildren, students, etc.), generating an activity that could enliven the daily life of residents.
The plot would be run by a farmer and crops shared between the farmer and the nursing home. This project drew attention through the future opportunities it opens up in terms of today’s social and sustainable development concerns.