An educational interior design framework for promoting greater inclusivity of the aged living in multigenerational households



Interior & Furniture Design


  • ageing population, inclusivity, interior design, multigenerational, social inclusion theory


Multigenerational households are inhabited by three or more generations cohabiting; however, homes are not always designed to accommodate multiple generations. Having been raised within a home filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and siblings, the personal experience of the primary researcher has been drawn on to frame the analysis of the challenges associated with multigenerational living. Multigenerational living requires functional spaces: space that efficiently includes all occupants to create a harmonious environment. As a prematurely ageing person with many physical challenges associated with degenerative spinal changes, the need for these spaces to be flexible and adaptable to changes related to physical and psychological development through age has been personally recognised. The understanding of the diverse physical and psychological needs of the users of the space features highly as a means of addressing how multigenerational spaces are designed. The paper follows both theoretical and functional standpoints. It draws on the social inclusion theory and empathic models to achieve a more in-depth understanding of people’s motivations and spatial intentions. This understanding is then translated into a photorealistic interpretation via 3D renders to facilitate design decisions prior to finalisation of spatial plans and purchases. It highlights the use of the interior design 3D rendering process to extend existing interior design tools such as 2D sketching and physical samples. The 3D experience of spaces, as facilitated through technology, aligns with the characteristics of the fourth industrial revolution, where the merging of physical, digital and biological worlds is prioritised. Focusing on the potential interaction between generations, both as positive and negative experiences, this paper further aims to promote barrier-free living, self-care and aged care through design improvements and considerations. It takes the broad theoretical understanding gained from data collection methods, literary reviews, ethnographic and autoethnographic experience and serves as an educational function for both student, professional, and user usage when designing multigenerational households. The structure of the interior design guidelines for multigenerational living prioritises design for barrier-free living and self-care, with adjustment potential for changes associated with ageing by following an empathic educational model specifically designed for multigenerational households. This model provides an educational framework in the hope to alleviate anticipated tensions experienced in multigenerational households through interior design.

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