LIV­ING with par­ents or grand­par­ents may not be ev­ery­one’s idea of heaven, but there is grow­ing in­ter­est in multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing on the Sun­shine Coast.

Bark De­sign Ar­chi­tects di­rec­tor Lindy Atkin says the de­sign trend is gain­ing mo­men­tum for a hand­ful of key rea­sons. Among them, multi-gen­er­a­tional homes are more af­ford­able and al­low the cap­i­tal costs of home own­er­ship to be shared.

“It is be­com­ing more and more dif­fi­cult for younger gen­er­a­tions to be able to buy their own prop­er­ties, so they are of­ten liv­ing at home with their par­ents for longer,” Ms Atkin said.

“The same ap­plies for older peo­ple not be­ing able to af­ford to rent or buy in later years, so the op­tion of liv­ing with their chil­dren be­comes fi­nan­cially ap­peal­ing.”

Ex­am­ples of such homes that her firm has de­signed in­clude a twobed­room stu­dio in the Noosa hin­ter­land where a cou­ple wanted a self­con­tained “stu­dio” on their prop­erty for their daugh­ter and grand­son to live in.

Master of Ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dent Lily Par­sons said multi-gen­er­a­tional hous­ing made per­fect sense as a per­son’s mo­bil­ity fluc­tu­ated their life.

To­gether with Ms Atkin and multi-award­win­ning Coast ar­chi­tect John Main­war­ing, Ms Par­sons will be part of a panel dis­cus­sion on the topic on Oc­to­ber 18 at the Sun­shine Coast Open House Fo­rum.

She said whether it be due to preg­nancy, ill­ness, in­jury or age­ing, ev­ery­one had pe­ri­ods of re­duced abil­ity, and the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing older gen­er­a­tions liv­ing with fam­i­lies pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity with far-reach­ing ben­e­fits.

“When we’re talk­ing about multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing, we’re re­ally talk­ing about cater­ing for dif­fer­ent bod­ies and dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties,” she said. “In ar­chi­tec­tural terms this means de­sign­ing in an adapt­able and flex­i­ble way that ac­knowl­edges the body isn’t static.

“If homes and houses are de­signed in a way that ac­knowl­edges the bal­ance be­tween pri­vacy and in­di­vid­u­al­ity against con­nec­tion and com­mu­nity, we see an op­por­tu­nity for gen­uine and sus­tain­able sup­port.”

Ex­am­ples of homes de­signed for mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions in­clude large houses with a shared or sep­a­rate kitchens and liv­ing spa­ces; mul­ti­ple homes on acreage and tiny houses ad­ja­cent to a main house.

Key fea­tures of the homes in­clude adapt­able spa­ces — con­certina walls for ex­am­ple — and ramps, wide halls and bath­rooms to en­sure wheelchair ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

Ms Par­son said shared labour and emo­tional sup­port were just a few of the well­doc­u­mented ben­e­fits of those kinds of de­signs.

“Hav­ing a sense of com­mu­nity is one of the key as­pects of hav­ing hap­pi­ness, so I think look­ing at multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing, and more peo­ple shar­ing well-de­signed homes, this has the abil­ity to con­trib­ute in a very real way to our com­mu­ni­ties and well­be­ing,” she said.

She said if the norm in home de­sign was to be more in­clu­sive of older peo­ple with vary­ing mo­bil­ity and other phys­i­cal abil­ity, peo­ple with dis­abil­ity would also ben­e­fit.

She said hav­ing grand­par­ents at home helped keep the younger gen­er­a­tion in touch with them, and re­cent cov­er­age of the poor stan­dards at many aged care fa­cil­i­ties had un­cov­ered a need for dras­tic change in how so­ci­ety housed the el­derly.

“So many sto­ries that have come out of the aged care royal com­mis­sion are quite hor­ri­fy­ing, and you hear sto­ries about in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who have de­cided to take on the care of their par­ents or grand­par­ents be­cause of the lack of sup­port they’ve been able to find in aged care hous­ing. “I think be­cause of that, lots of peo­ple are hav­ing par­ents or grand­par­ents in their own homes,” she said.

“There’s a lot of re­form that needs to hap­pen in that area, but it re­ally does start the con­ver­sa­tion about … liv­ing in multi­gen­er­a­tional spa­ces.”

Ms Atkins said her clients found that multi-gen­er­a­tional hous­ing of­fered unique re­sale op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Clients are ask­ing ar­chi­tects to ex­plore al­ter­na­tive lay­outs to al­low shar­ing dwellings and the po­ten­tial for ex­tend­ing if nec­es­sary to ac­com­mo­date other fam­ily mem­bers,” she said.

The open fo­rum on multi-gen­er­a­tional liv­ing will be held at the USC In­no­va­tion Cen­tre from 5.30pm on Oc­to­ber 18.

Thirty build­ings are open­ing their doors as part of the Sun­shine Coast Open Homes, which is also run­ning a pho­tog­ra­phy com­pe­ti­tion.

Visit sun­shinecoast­open­

Pic­tures: Christo­pher Fred­er­ick Jones and Kim Guthrie

TOP AND MID­DLE: Bark De­sign stu­dio apart­ments, the one on top con­structed for rel­a­tives. ABOVE: A Gabriel Poole-de­signed con­tainer house at Lake Weyba. IN­SET: Lily Par­sons.


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