Sometimes, old methods provide useful solution models for our modern problems. While many of us are familiar with a nuclear family unit at home, it wasn’t unusual in the past for multi-generational homes. This home in Amsterdam was devised by BETA architecture studio to tackle the tricky issue of affordability in the housing market: two households decided to build together, and the result is the 3 Generation House.
The project consist of two independent accommodation areas stacked on top of the other, united by a central yellow staircase, and framed with a striking facade. Cross-generational living was made possible, while also considering the possibility of future changing spatial demands over time. Let’s take a closer look!
Multi-generational Living Concept
According to the varying needs of three generations, the house is split into two main living zones. The grandparents reside on the upper apartment floor, with a roof terrace boasting generous views across the cityscape. After living in the countryside, they were keen to move back to “the proximity of urban amenities.” The top apartment is designed around having step-free, level floors to accommodate the possibility of wheelchairs, and serviced by a lift for improved accessibility.
Downstairs is occupied by a family with young children. The area includes an office, and the living room, which opens onto the garden so children can play outside. “It’s two fully independent houses that are intertwined with one another,” Auguste van Oppen, co-founder of BETA, explains.
In addition to a lift, at the heart of the project is the bold yellow staircase, a central access system that runs through the entire building. It creates a sculptural look and feature to the apartment building, and also allows for a ‘surplus room’ that can be a guest room for the upper apartment, or adapted for the lower apartment if need be.
“Instead of reducing vertical circulation to a necessity, it occupies the heart of the building. Omnipresent as a sculptural element in the lower apartment, the system gradually transforms into a series of voids higher up in the building.” — BETA
Moreover, the central staircase serves to divide the accommodation into two parts; quieter towards the north, and more open with glass panels towards the garden.
The contrasting facades emphasize the gradient between open and closed space in the building’s plan. The southern facade is clad with triple glazed window frames and structured with free-form elements, opening up completely to a light-filled space by maximizing the connection with the outdoors. The north-facing walls are a predominantly closed facade, which helps to reduce thermal loss and prevents noise pollution from the busy main street.
Between these two facades, a gradual transformation transitions from the enclosed rooms in the north to the light-filled living spaces to the south. “In a near elementary detailing, the building communicates its composition, and materials communicate their purpose,” describe BETA. “Closed and bare towards the north, light and fragile towards the south, the building is a composition of contrasts.”
Externally, exposed concrete masonry walls wrapped in high-grade thermal insulation enclose the structural walls throughout the home to support bare concrete slab spanning 8 meters, while contrasting with the wood that introduces a warm hue. It can be said that the masonry facade that subdivided the space into equal quarters signals a move away from glazing and metal towards a historical approach.
With more adults moving back in to live with their parents, the need is growing for a home that can support multiple generations under one roof. This layout, which allows privacy for both households yet also offers them the proximity of family, is a great solution for many.
What do you think of this three-generation apartment building?
For more staircase stunners, check out this Noe Valley remodel which uses skylights to create a stunning display through the four-story stairwell.