Canada is facing an unprecedented demographic shift over the next 50 years; the senior population will be the largest it has ever been, which will put a great strain on the availability of senior housing. Consequently, issues of affordable housing with access to care immediately need to be addressed through an architectural intervention. There is a lack of choice of housing for low income seniors who need or wish to have minimum to moderate care and assistance in the home. This intervention of a multigenerational building provides a home for children, adults, and seniors to live together and to facilitate care between all residents. By providing both housing for all generations, and shared spaces to be used between all residents, all ages can participate and receive the necessary care while simultaneously creating a community within a shared building.
Even before the pandemic’s world-changing effects, 20 per cent of Canadians were living in multi-generational housing, according to a Pew Research Center study. Canadian Census data indicates an increase of 37.5 per cent in multi-generational housing from 2001 to 2016, with the highest proportion — 17 per cent — in Toronto.
The recession is also one driver of this trend; young adults, known as “boomerang kids,” are moving back home with their parents due to a job loss or inability to afford housing with the jobs they do have. Longer life spans are another drive.
A growing trend in home use is rising from a tradition that was once just the way we lived: multi-generational housing.
A multigenerational house brings together two independent groups, the family and the senior, and creates a shared housing situation.
Each generation requires separate spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms. As explained by Susan Newman, a writer on multigenerational families, “Bedroom privacy, once defined, draws a crucial boundary line for the living arrangement”.
Although these generations have chosen to live with one another, privacy is necessary in the bedroom. The area in which privacy can begin to be altered is within the living space: the kitchen, dining room and living room. There are many helpful ways to live together and apart at the same time.
By far, the two most important considerations are a separate entrance and kitchen. It may be a cliché, but the A Multigenerational Home kitchen really is the heart of the home and is traditionally run by the female head of the household…two women trying to manage one kitchen can present serious problems. Therefore bedrooms must be provided as private spaces, the kitchen must be designed to provide separate spaces for each generation, and main entrances must give all generations a sense of independence. The unit must provide for three different types of spaces: private, semi private and public (figure 16)
By far multigenerational is not the whole housing market, but it is an important niche. As home builders struggle with a variety of economic pressures, developing a new product line is likely the last thing on their minds. But some architects and builders are getting a jump on the coming wave of household consolidation. Here are the most significant design trends in homes being built today :
- First-floor master suites and dual masters
- Lower-level living areas
- Living space above the garage or in an extra garage bay
- Separate entrances
- Second kitchens
- Private spaces for each generation
- Rental apartments within single-family homes
- Design development within the house also includes the design of a main customizable panel system that would run through the kitchen, dining room, and living room of the multigenerational unit. This panel system ensures that both the family and the senior have private space within the shared common area of the unit.
Considering all above design trends It’s not so easy for municipalities to deal with this new trend.
It will be tough in a city like Toronto where The housing stock is there and it’s going to take some creative work from the city to allow certain things, like additional entrances to a house or to allow multiple areas for cooking. Municipalities need to be on board too.
The fact is that many municipalities need to adapt their policies and very few Ontario cities allow secondary suites or laneway houses. There is another huge opportunity exists in Toronto to allow for coach houses to be built on top of existing garages in older neighbourhoods.
“COVID-19 is changing interior design, although (aging) baby boomers were already changing design,” said Kafka. “(The pandemic) has validated and opened our minds to a whole lot of things.
“I would love to see homes adapt to us so we don’t have to adapt to them.”
1-“A Multigenerational Home”
A thesis by
Brea Mann-Lewis, 2014, Carleton University Ottawa, Ontario
2-“Design Trends in Multigenerational Housing”
By Susan Bady, Contributing Editor | Janu- ary 1, 2011
3-Multi-generational housing is a growing trend that’s back
By Tracy Hanes, Special to the Star
Wed., June 17, 2020