With several homes in our portfolio uniquely attuned to the multigenerational needs of families of all ages, R ARCHITECTURE draws on cultural understanding and architectural experience to develop responsive design solutions.
In countries across the globe, multigenerational living is not only practical and economical but a socially and culturally beneficial solution to high-density living.
A tradition favoured by our regional neighbours in the Asia Pacific, the practice is becoming more commonplace in modern-day Australia in the face of a seemingly impenetrable housing market. Today’s ‘nests’ may remain occupied by adult children in their late 20s and early 30s, a popular route for those undertaking extended study, opting to travel, or saving for homes of their own.
Equally, an increasingly ageing population seeks to live in the company of family – this is a particularly topical issue given the numerous challenges Australian aged care and healthcare sectors faced in recent years. Over time, R ARCHITECTURE has built a steady stream of residential projects which reflect these trends, tailored to the intricacies of shared family life.
In our practice, what we have observed is that multigenerational living looks entirely different for each family – there is no single approach. Therefore, getting to know our clients is key.
We ask questions like: who will be sharing the property? What degree of privacy and independence does each group require? What spaces are required when family members come together? How long do the current residents intend to live in the home, and how will spaces be used when they vacate? Finding solutions to these prompts allows us to achieve a truly responsive design.
Drawing on our own collective cultural lens, with members of our team having lived experience of multigenerational home life, R ARCHITECTURE also takes each project as an opportunity to expand our understanding of what makes a modern Australian family home.
Our Glengarry House was designed for a family who has always lived in Australia, indicating a shift in not just migrant groups bringing family values from their homelands, but in resident Australians as well. This project was developed in order to prolong their children’s time in the home, as a way to help them save for their own.
Another project, entitled Baker’s House, was made in consideration of the client’s son’s material preferences, given his pursuit of architectural studies. This is intended to serve as a forever home for not just our clients, but their sons too; and we were intrigued by this intentionally intergenerational thinking, with more focus on legacy and inherited space.
A creative division of space is crucial in establishing dedicated zones for casual interaction while maintaining privacy between generations and solitude for the individual. Case in point, our Courtyard House project is home to 3 generations of a Malaysian family. Planned vertically, the home positions the oldest generation’s quarters and the main living area and cook’s kitchen on the ground floor. Each of the two upper levels holds a self-contained apartment for each adult child and their families, with their bedrooms, living spaces, and kitchenette. This approach facilitates adequate levels of separation and privacy while providing a large space where all three generations within the home can come together.
Our Three-G House project follows a horizontal layout with separate wings: one for our clients and their young children and one for their parents. In this project, the parents’ wing has its own private courtyard.
As we emerge from the global inertia of lockdowns, families are also seeking to accommodate relatives from overseas more easily, with the ability to accommodate guests a very common request. This was the case in our Tree House project, with a family of teenage children and visiting parents from overseas. We mapped this project out according to the individual needs of each family group – with grandparents close to kids’ bedrooms, all on the same level, sharing a corridor, to enable them to maximise time together.
Of course, a multigenerational home enables easy ageing in place. Accessibility is an obvious consideration for older residents or even residents that may be relatively young but intend to remain in the property for many years. For projects with a vertical plan, we may include a lift, provision for a lift to be added in the future or strategically design straight staircases that will easily accommodate a chair lift in the future. Whether to address spatial needs associated with age or physical ability, we find that a home designed considering diverse occupants provides for genuinely empathetic residential architecture to arise.
As with every project we deliver, multigenerational homes require an exploration of spatial needs driven by sensitivity to the individual inhabitants’ unique idiosyncrasies. Our aim is to create an abundant base where many lives can intersect in harmony, where individual privacy and peace are supported, and family memories are shared.