Transformative Design

The concept of aging-in-place is creating flexible dwellings designed to adapt to the modern family’s changing needs.

The modern family is a diverse, organic, ever-evolving unit. From cradle to grave, the family dynamic is in a constant state of change as it adapts to various life stages. On the other hand, most homes are traditionally static; rarely are they designed to adapt to residents’ changing needs and lifestyles. But now, a growing trend is seeking to create flexible dwellings designed to enable a family to age in place while residing within the comfort of their own home.


The concept of aging in place conceives of life-giving, design-appropriate homes that allow residents to experience life’s many changes without sacrificing style or sophistication. It is a concept advocated by such Washington, D.C.-based organizations as the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The NAIPC is an organization dedicated to uniting representatives from various industries in an effort to meet the needs of the aging population and to assist them as they continue to live in their housing of choice, and the AIA’s Design for Aging Knowledge Community exists “to foster design innovation and disseminate knowledge necessary to enhance the built environment and quality of life for an aging society.


A forecast by the National Association of Home Builders estimates that 50% of home builders plan to incorporate some form of sustainable design into their projects. And though the initial investment in a green home can sometimes be a bit pricey, the savings According to an AIA Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2007, homeowners continue to request greater accessibility within their homes. Wider hallways, fewer steps and a single-floor layout are the hallmarks of such design. “The continued interest in greater accessibility is being driven by baby boomers approaching retirement who are adapting their homes to meet their longer-term needs, along with those who are caring for aging parents or relatives,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD.


As a result, aging-in-place is a philosophy to which many home builders and architects are ascribing. Fort Worth-based Augusta George Builders creates high-quality dwellings that include a variety of features designed to enable residents to comfortably experience life’s many milestones. The firm includes such features as barrier-free entryways sans steps, ample bathroom space with no-step showers, extra-wide doorways and rocker light switches reachable from the bedside. In many two-story homes, AG also includes a zoned A/C unit and water heater for the second floor. These measures allow homeowners to power down the units when children leave for college or when the upstairs area is no longer occupied. On the first floor, the firm designs and builds two master suites.


The second suite is intended to enable families to accompany an array of changing needs, including an aging parent who might eventually move in with them. Also in two-story dwellings, the firm incorporates the capacity for an elevator shaft. If at any point a home-owner chooses to install an elevator providing access to the second floor, construction is minimal.


AG tastefully crafts each feature into the home without sacrificing sophistication. The result is a dwelling designed to accommodate a family’s range of evolving needs, including a preschool party for elementary-aged children, a sorority tea for a college-aged daughter or elderly parents who might need care.


Safety and security are the very emotions a home should evoke. By incorporating such aging in place elements, residents can reside with peace of mind in a dwelling designed to grow and accommodate the modern family’s ever-evolving lifestyles.


Article by Christine Kelly