Universal Design Strategies Foster Intergenerational Living in Multifamily Communities

Universal Design Strategies Foster Intergenerational Living in Multifamily Communities

Designing a group that will home, among other populations, active aged older people need to prioritize basic safety. An suitable neighborhood will be nicely lit with quick to read signage on the streets and smooth sidewalks with ramps at the corners.

By Carol Cole, director of interior design, DAHLIN Group Architecture AT

Intergenerational households are rising at a a lot quicker speed than they ended up pre-pandemic. Generations United, a nonprofit devoted to supporting intergenerational systems and procedures, estimates that 66.7 million U.S. adults are living in a multigenerational residence, with almost 57 {3ad958c56c0e590d654b93674c26d25962f6afed4cc4b42be9279a39dd5a6531} of this statistic spurred by COVID. 

Even following the quick impacts of the pandemic subside, intergenerational dwelling will remain common for a selection of explanations. These can assortment from the will need for little one and/or elder care to cultural anticipations and economic-relevant variables, this sort of as reduction of a task, high instructional costs or housing availability. Thinking about this trend and recognizing that more than 16 million Individuals are presently in excess of the age of 65, the movement towards incorporating universal style and design procedures on household tasks is vital for building aesthetic living spaces that are usable by everyone to the best extent attainable. 

Now a regular in the health care group, common structure is the design and style and composition of a area set up to meet the desires of all buyers, not as a specific necessity to reward only a small fraction of a inhabitants. The apply success in inclusive environments that assistance high-working, impartial dwelling for persons across all spectrums. 


To achieve superior common design and style, it is significant to glance at how diverse people shift by way of a typical working day and the way they purpose in an setting. In the circumstance of entryways, picture a individual carrying a sleeping child or bringing various luggage of groceries from the car into their dwelling in one vacation. Then photo an aged person with limited mobility, potentially employing a walker, returning from a limited wander to the grocery retailer. 

These men and women may possibly vary in their skills, but all will use the identical entryway to entry their households, and they’ll advantage from thoughtfully applied inclusive designs that are beneficial to persons irrespective of their skills, requirements or age. 

Improved functions that simplify the entry process and elevate the experience may entail:

  • Clever locks and doors with a key fob and quick hardware
  • Motion sensors to instantly turn on lights
  • A sloped walkway in its place of 1 with a threshold
  • A time-release door nearer made for slower entry and enabling the smart lock to interact
  • Entrance doorways with a sidelight for visibility to see who is on the other side (possibly from a smart doorbell that presents customer data or merely doorway viewers at various heights)

In the scenario of the aged human being strolling back residence, there are quite a few components that ought to be addressed for security. Ideally, the community will be perfectly lit with effortless to read through signage on the streets, and it would have easy sidewalks with ramps at the corners. 


Kitchens can be a obstacle, but it is attainable to develop usable kitchen area spaces with mechanisms that accommodate effortless access for all. Makers are starting to embrace universal layout ideas and use them to appliances, cabinetry and electronics. Much more items are coming to marketplace that are built to cater to all demographics and at all heights. From taller end users who simply cannot bend around very well to people of shorter stature or reduced array of peak, these kinds of as the elderly, little ones and people in wheelchairs. Reimagining products by means of a common structure lens has led the way to innovative improvements in each day devices, which includes: 

  • Ovens and cooktops with controls on the front for sight accessibility
  • Decreased hood controls, both over the countertop or created into cupboard fronts for easier procedure
  • Microwave drawers with major-load style
  • Versatile cabinetry with the skill to clear away sections easily for superior access to sinks and cooktops
  • Dishwasher, fridge and freezer drawers that carry the workings into achieve whether the person is tall, cannot bend around very well or is in a wheelchair. These have the included advantage of enabling young spouse and children users to participate in extra kitchen area actions


Adaptable factors can be applied for various uses and foster improved encounters between consumers. As an illustration, fold-down get bars that also function as bathroom paper holders can enable people to be extra independent. Loos meant for wheelchairs or walkers make it simpler to accommodate much larger persons, and plumbing fixtures have been devised to accommodate extra weight although showing up standard in layout. 

Builders have also commenced incorporating inclusive style tactics right into bogs. Some methods that are getting additional mainstream are: 

  • Zero-threshold showers with horizontal drains for steadier footing in the shower and less tripping dangers
  • Varied shower components, both equally shower heads and hand-hold sprayers
  • Open counters under sinks for wheelchair accessibility
  • Comfort height bogs, which are less complicated for most ages and skills
  • Enhanced lighting
  • Fold-down medication cupboards

Additional, non-home specific, style and design methods to contemplate could be set up flooring for flush surfaces, acoustics with considerably less reverberation for the hearing impaired to listen to appears far more exactly and different mild sources. Good gentle fixtures and improved LED light-weight resources ease eye pressure and permit improved visual regulate. 

These outlined methods leverage breakthroughs in technology with improvements in layout and production to produce inclusive living areas all citizens can use and get pleasure from. Intergenerational residing demonstrates no sign of halting, making universal layout an critical factor in the foreseeable future of apartments. 

As solution pricing arrives down and residences go toward staying built and transformed in this type, infusing inclusive style and design on initiatives now can increase the assets financial commitment and assure lengthy-expression features of the place. 

Carol Cole is director of interior style at DAHLIN Group Architecture AT.