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The Transgenerational House

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     The Accessible Plan
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Age-in-place gracefully—indoors or out—in a fully-accessible 'transgenerational' house.
House Photo  
   Transgenerational House designed by James J. Pirkl, FIDSA 

Probe the 'WHY' and the 'HOW'...

  The Transgenerational Concept

   The Project's Goals

   House Description

  The Design Program



 The Transgenerational Concept...

...IS NOT about building specialized "elderly" or "disabled" housing and furnishing them with "adaptive" or "senior" products.

IT IS about designing residential environments and household products to accommodate the widest possible spectrum of those who would use them—regardless of age or ability.

A transgenerational house:

removes barriers, extends independent living, provides wider options, offers greater choices, and enhances the quality of life for all — the young, the old, the able, the disabled — without penalty to any group.

It does so by integrating human-sensitive architecture, appliances, fixtures, products and communication systems designed for safety, comfort, convenience, accessibility, clean-ability, adjust-ability, ease of use, and bodily fit—transgenerational features that neutralize the aging process.

Shouldn't the kitchen, dining area, bath, laundry—or a potato peeler—be as readily used by a child with a sprained ankle, an octogenarian with an arthritic spine, or a pregnant thirty-something housewife with poor eyesight?

We think so!

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 The Project's Goals

Our transgenerational house project has three goals:

  • DEMONSTRATE how transgenerational design can extend independent living for millions of aging people—a number destined to increase dramaticallly as the Baby Boom generation ages toward retirement.

  • IINFORM the general public about the advantages of transgenerational accommodation in housing, houseold products and interior environments.

  • STIMULATE consumer demand by communicating the competitive advantages of transgenerational design to the home building, remodeling, and household product industries.

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 House Description

Based on the premise that accessible, "universal" housing need not look "institutional" nor imply "aging," the design of our transgenerational house emphasizes livability over raw square footage.

It features a wide range of innovative, cutting-edge architectural components, appliances, products and fixtures. All are designed to accommodate the widest range of ages and abilities—the essence of transgenerational design.

The house is built on an acre+ lot in Placitas, New Mexico, an upscale residentialcommunity. its design is upbeat, contemporary, and attractive to young as well as older residents. Its major areas open onto an accessible central courtyard "oasis" creating an interplay of indoor and outdoor living.

The site features an elevated plateau with southwestern vegetation and scattered juniper trees. It commands a dramatic view of the Sandia Mountains and a sweeping horizon of mesas and plains beyond the Rio Grande river.

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 The Design Program


Prior to the design phase, we prepared a 12-page design program outlining the project's needs, desires and requirements. It included such objectives as:

  • Provide safety, comfort, convenience, beauty, accessibility, and easy use for the widest diversity of potential users
  • Create an attractive, upbeat, contemporary design that appeals to young as well as older residents
  • Create an aesthetic blend of structure, open floor plan, and large glass openings with universal access
  • Produce a passive solar structure with low-maintenance, utilizing energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive materials.
  • Design the kitchen, dining and living areas as one flowing flexible space that accentuates the site's dramatic mountain views
  • Develop a wheelchair-friendly plan that reduces the need to bend, squat, lift, or stand for long periods of time.

Green Design

The program also included such "green" and environmentally sustainable requirements as:

  • Design for energy efficiency
  • Utilize renewable energy
  • Optimize use of renewable materials
  • Install water-eficient, low-maintenance landscaping
  • Design for durability and low maintenance
  • Plan for future reuse and adaptability
  • Avoid materials that give off gas pollutants
  • Utilize renewable materials like cork and bamboo flooring

We included these objectives and requirements to not only preserve health, energy, and resources, but to also simplify and humanize the interactive activities of daily living within an inter-generational household.

We can help you design transgenerational environments and household products that are equally attractive and accommodating to users of all ages and abilities.

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