April 18, 2024

A Mumbai apartment with its own temple and a Tokyo home for three generations and eight cats feature in this lookbook highlighting ten intergenerational households that showcase how interiors can balance privacy and community.

Multi-generational living, in which several generations of a family cohabit under one roof, is already common practice in many parts of Asia, the Middle East, southern Europe and Africa.

But with the growing price of housing, as well as elder and childcare, these kinds of communal living arrangements are now becoming increasingly popular around the world.

This has prompted architects and designers to devise clever ways to divide up interiors, balancing the need for both private and communal spaces by using everything from staircases to moving partitions and planted terraces.

Many also integrate accessible design features for their elderly inhabitants, such as wheelchair ramps and elevators.

This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen’s archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing decorative ceramics, bathrooms with statement tiles and dining areas anchored by sculptural pendant lights.

Charles House by Austin Maynard ArchitectsCharles House by Austin Maynard Architects
Photo is by Peter Bennetts Studio

Charles House, Australia, by Austin Maynard Architects

Pocket sliding partitions connect the rooms in this home so that its interiors can grow with the owner’s children and ultimately also accommodate their grandparents.

Complete with a wheelchair-accessible garden, the building is one of a growing number of multi-generational houses being designed in answer to Melbourne’s housing crisis.

“A diverse family home is often a healthy family home,” said Australian studio Austin Maynard Architects. “However, multigenerational homes also reflect the nature of our economy.”

Find out more about Charles House ›

Three-Generation House by BETAThree-Generation House by BETA
Photo is by Ossip van Duivenbode

Three-Generation House, Netherlands, by BETA

The Three-Generation House in Amsterdam was designed to resemble a “mini apartment building”, housing a young family on the lower floors and the grandparents on the top floor, which can be accessed via a private lift.

A bright yellow staircase runs through the centre of the plan, helping to divide the open-plan interior while effectively connecting all the different levels of the home into a cohesive whole.

Find out more about Three-Generation House ›

Vikki's Place by Curious PracticeVikki's Place by Curious Practice
Photo is by Katherine Lu

Vikki’s Place, Australia, by Curious Practice

Instead of doors, slim wooden blinds and raised plywood platforms help to demarcate the bedrooms in this Australian home, designed to accommodate the owner as well as her grown-up son and his family, who often come to stay for extended periods of time.

“The play with the levels enables the architecture to act as furniture, which accommodates more or fewer guests for different occasions,” architect Warren Haasnoot of local studio Curious Practice told Dezeen.

“Manoeuvring between spaces and levels invokes a sense that one is navigating between levels of terrain rather than moving room to room or outside to inside.”

Find out more about Vikki’s Place ›

Cornwall Gardens, Singapore, by Chang ArchitectsCornwall Gardens, Singapore, by Chang Architects
Photo is by Albert Lim K S

Cornwall Gardens, Singapore, by Chang Architects

Planted terraces are organised around a central pool in this family home in Singapore, providing each of the six bedrooms with natural vistas and a sense of privacy despite the busy floorplan.

Local studio Chang Architects conceived the project as a “tropical paradise,” complete with a Koi carp pond and a waterfall to encourage the owner’s children to raise their families here once they’ve grown up.

Find out more about Cornwall Gardens ›

Choy House by O'Neill Rose ArchitectsChoy House by O'Neill Rose Architects
Photo is by Michael Moran

Choy House, USA, by O’Neill Rose Architects

Two brothers, their families and their mother share this residence in Flushing, Queens, which New York studio O’Neill Rose Architects describes as “three homes under one roof”.

Designed to fuse American and Chinese ways of living in a nod to the client’s mixed heritage, the house effectively provides two separate homes for the two siblings, connected by a communal lower level that is also home to their mother and can be accessed via stairs hidden behind semi-transparent screens.

Find out more about Choy House ›

Stairway House by NendoStairway House by Nendo
Photo is courtesy of Nendo

Stairway House, Japan, by Nendo

Three generations of the same family share this three-storey home in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, with the more accessible ground floor given over to the grandparents and their eight pet cats.

Japanese studio Nendo bisected the floorplan with a huge fake staircase, which provides a visual connection between the different levels while accommodating a bathroom, a playroom for the cats and a plethora of potted plants.

Find out more about Stairway House ›

Photo is by Javier Callejas Sevilla

Residence 1065, India, by Charged Voids

Indian studio Charged Voids designed this house in Chandigarh to combine the communal focus of “Eastern spatial planning” with the “Western aesthetics” of Le Corbusier.

Housing a family of six – including a couple, their parents and their children – the residence features private areas on the second floor and communal areas on the ground floor, which can be conjoined or separated using collapsible partitions.

Find out more about Residence 1065 ›

Song House by AZL ArchitectsSong House by AZL Architects
Photo is by Yao Li

Song House, China, by AZL Architects

A wheelchair ramp wraps its way around this house in the rural village of Nansong, which is inhabited by a couple in their 50s alongside three older family members, as well as occasionally their children and grandchildren.

Like a traditional Chinese farmhouse, the building is organised around a central courtyard, with glazed openings providing views across the plan to create a sense of community and connection.

Find out more about Song House ›

Wellington Street Mixed Use by Matt Gibson Architecture and DesignWellington Street Mixed Use by Matt Gibson Architecture and Design
Photo is by Matt Gibson

Wellington Street Mixed Use, Australia, by Matt Gibson

Set on a narrow infill site in Melbourne, this home is constructed from irregularly stacked boxes that can be segmented to cater to different generations of the same family.

A central atrium connects the different levels to the kitchen on the ground floor, while also functioning as a lightwell and a cooling stack for ventilation.

Find out more about Wellington Street Mixed Use ›

Mumbai apartment by The Act of QuadMumbai apartment by The Act of Quad
Photo is by Ishita Sitwala

Mumbai apartment, India, by The Act of Quad

Indian practice The Act of Quad designed the “minimal but playful” interior of this three-generational apartment in Mumbai to consolidate the pared-back aesthetic of the owner, who is an engineer, with the more irreverent style of his cartoonist father.

Intricate woodwork pieces were brought over from the family’s former home and refurbished to create a sense of tradition and continuity, while a small temple was tucked away behind folding doors with amber glass portholes.

Find out more about Mumbai apartment ›

This is the latest in our series of lookbooks providing curated visual inspiration from Dezeen’s image archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks showcasing decorative ceramics, bathrooms with statement tiles and dining areas anchored by sculptural pendant lights.


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