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Objective: Design a single family home for an affordable housing developer in a low-income area of New Haven, CT.

Response: This project seeks to make a case for an affordable housing strategy that is already prevalent in many other cultures and is increasingly popular in our own; multi-generational living. By recognizing the needs and the contributions that a resident is able to make at each stage of their lives, the burden of home ownership can be eased.

The concept of the ‘household’ is a dynamic thing and the way in which an occupant relates both economically and socially to their home drastically changes throughout their lifetime.  What is fairly consistent, however, are the periods of one’s life in which they own and those in which they renting.  If we could consolidate some of these, the cost of living can be spread out amongst more than one contributing generation.

So what does this have to do with building design?  Aren’t there plenty of families who’s parents and grandparents live with them and help out with the expenses?  Yes, but this has developed a negative stigma; Most people, while they love their relatives, also love their independence.  This is where building design can make a difference.

This project begins with breaking down the utilitarian requirements of each generation.  The key was then to develop different levels of accessibility, amenity, and autonomy within the private spaces of each one.  The result is one ground level living space, partially separated from the home, ideal for elderly people due to its lack of stairs and partially independent arrangement.  A second living space is on the second level and is the most 'connected' to the rest of the house.  This would be ideal for the parents, or primary generation within the household.  A third private space is located on the third level and takes on a loft configuration.  It is very independent but still connected through the shared spaces of the house.  This would be ideal for a young adult.  Together these separate spaces form a cohesive living arrangement that allows for each party to live according to the lifestyle as dictated by age.  It is a truly dynamic configuration that combines the social and economic realities of the twenty-first century home.

Formally, the house is designed in such a way that is sensitive to the low-income neighborhood in which it is located.  The traditional gable  roof is adapted and the house is placed in line with the existing fabric of the street.  The big difference is the subtle switch of the typical second floor bedroom and the first level living room, as well as the full occupation of the third level.

To strengthen the individual qualities of each private space, each one has its own outdoor space.  The balconies are carved out of the building envelope as masses but disguised by the rain screen which reads as a continuous mass.  This is meant to metaphorically unite the very different living spaces.  The two story dormer is a contemporary adaptation of the typical corner lot condition in New Haven.  The gesture gives prominence to the second, long-side elevation as well as providing an overall unique character.

More: http://architecture.yale.edu/gallery/architectural-design-7

Completed: April 2015

Course: Graduate Studio II at the Yale School of Architecture

Critic: Trattie Davies