Looking into the future is often a fool's game. In the case of the Three Generation House, by Beta-Office, they look back in order to make a judgement on how we could live going forwards.
The current norm of families being insular groups where children move out as soon as they possibly can, is a relatively modern phenomenon. Simply due to the increased wealth of individuals, notably in the West, has caused the breakup of multi-generational living. This setup sees young children, parents and grand-parents co-habiting under one roof. If this is sounding like your worst nightmare, that's understandable, but this is a possible solution to a handful of issues our society faces.
In developed countries the last time that the majority of people lived under these circumstances would have seen large families crammed into very small environments, most likely in poor conditions where they shared facilities and utilities with other large family units. The setup is more normal in developing countries where there remains a stronger respect for elder generations, although this bond is loosening as young generations have access to more wealth, and therefore, more freedom.
Beta-Office have decided to look at this concept through a contemporary lens. Clearly the project is large, compromising of two split-level apartments. This factor is clearly at odds with the pre-1900 situation. Nonetheless, the space is adaptable, at the time of building it was intended for the older grandparents to occupy the top space, accessible by elevator, with views over the Amsterdam skyline. The lower floors are better setup for the young, working family, complete with office space and play areas.
Ecologically the building encourages outdoor living (as much as possible in temperate Holland), with the south side having a sizeable balcony on each floor, as well as a child friendly garden. The concrete core, which houses the staircase, is thermally wrapped allowing the building to much better regulate its temperature. Similarly, the south facing elevation, overlooking the garden, is triple glazed, locking in heat.
As an informed glimpse of the future it looks promising. There are myriad benefits of the inter-generational setup, including free childcare, educational support, a far smaller chance of social isolation for the elderly and financial support. Clearly the space available is going to be an enormous factor into the widespread viability of this, as we have got use to certain degrees of privacy and individuality. Other models available that get around this problem look at community projects where couples or family units have their own residence but share a micro-community with the elderly.
In our fight for a race to the top, where life is good for all, we want to see more of this sort of thinking. It is costly in many ways for groups to be left behind so we're excited to see how this project develops.