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5 Clever Ways to House Multiple Generations Under One Roof

A very literal approach in Yonago, Japan—Photo by Yohei Sasakura/Sasa No Kurasha via <a href="http://www.designboom.com/architecture/ym-design-office-rain-shelter-house-japan-08-07-2014/">Designboom</a>
A very literal approach in Yonago, Japan—Photo by Yohei Sasakura/Sasa No Kurasha via Designboom

In many parts of the world, multiple generations living in one house is common, if not the norm. In the United States, multigenerational housing declined after World War II, as separate nuclear families became the new standard. But for various reasons, whether it involves caring for ailing parents, cutting down on child-rearing costs, or just surviving the volatile economy, multigenerational housing has rebounded stateside, with the total number of Americans living in this arrangement doubling since 1980. This trend, of course, presents an interesting challenge to architects. While there are already various standardized solutions from big time home builders, there are also plenty of bespoke solutions for housing elderly grandparents, boomerang kids, and everyone in between, all under one roof. Take a look at these inventive designs.

All photos by Lincoln Barbour via Dangermond Keane Architecture

In Portland, Oregon, local firm Dangermond Keane Architecture has created a comfortable dwelling for three generations by connecting two lofts via a small elevator. The new downstairs loft adds 1,200 square feet of space to the original upstairs unit, which is occupied by the parents. One boxy volume, enclosed by sliding wooden doors, is for the grandmother, while another glassy interior volume offers a separate living space for the granddaughter. Outside these "boxed bedrooms" are a bathroom, kitchen, and an elevated library and study area.

Photos by Michael Moran via New York Design Hunting; Photos via O'Neill Rose Architects

Inspired by Levittown-style homes and designed by O'Neill Rose Architects, this modern and practical new-build in Flushing, New York, packs in three branches of one family. The street-facing stucco-clad volume is a two-story dwelling for the client's brother and sister-in-law. On the yard-facing end, the client, his wife, and two children occupy the upper portions of the house, while the client's parents reside in the concrete-finished basement. Though separated for the most part, the three residences do get a bit of interaction through various staircases and a large common space leading out to the backyard and garden.

All photos by Jeff Wolfram via ArchDaily

Designed by Boston-based firm Höweler + Yoon Architecture, this suburban home in McLean, Virginia, is composed of three volumes that all frame views to the slopped wooded site. The smaller volume on the ground level is a master suite for the grandparents, while the larger one holds the shared kitchen, dining room, and family room. The long second-story volume bridges the ground level spaces and houses two more master suites (one for a visiting daughter and one for a live-in son and daughter-in-law) and a "Jack and Jill" suite for the two grandchildren.

All photos by Toshiyuki Yano via Dezeen

There are technically two roofs in this eccentric Tokyo home, but it's nonetheless an inventive approach to multigenerational housing. Designed by Akio Nakasa of Japanese firm Naf Architect & Design, the pair of slanted white structures come together to form an arched tunnel with the slightest gap in the center. The lower, single-story half houses the grandmother, while the the two-story half is occupied by a couple and their child. Doors to both sides are under the arch. Since the home is flanked by two roads, the path under the tunnel is conveniently now a driveway.

All photos by Yohei Sasakura/Sasa No Kurasha via Designboom

In Yonago, Japan, three generations of one family live in this aptly-titled "Rain Shelter House." Completed by Japanese firm Y+M Design Office, the unorthodox residence is composed of a handful of timber-gabled boxes organized beneath a canopy of folded steel. The separate structures house private quarters for the clients, their children, and a grandparent, while a courtyard serves as a communal area.

· All architecture coverage [Curbed]