Intergenerational Mix: Reimagining Housing for an Ageing Population

WX Intro image
A slice of intergenerational life.

“To normalize old age, we must restore the old to the community.”[1]

As a new demographic composition unravels, what residential forms will allow New Zealanders to better design for their longer and increasingly heterogeneous lives?

This thesis studies the manufactured utopia of age-segregated communities, the place of the old during the fracturing of entrenched family structures, and the architectural forms which have supported the ever-changing patterns of human habitation.

Operating between the realms of the ‘realist’ and the ‘utopian’, this thesis reimagines the place of the elderly in the New Zealand home and neighbourhood. Experiments in collage and modelling on sites in Auckland seek to discover the potential and conditions for an alternative way of dwelling that transverses generations and households.

[1] Mumford, “For Older People - Not Segregation but Integration,” 192.

Status Quo


New Zealand is similar to many Western countries in its reliance on owner-occupiers to ‘age in place’, supported by resident preference and government policy. To retire in New Zealand is to have achieved the ‘kiwi dream’ for a house and home, an ideal bound to the concepts of private ownership and the nuclear family as the basic social unit. Where staying in the family home becomes unviable, specialised housing for the elderly in the form of assisted living, rest homes or retirement villages becomes part of the mix.

Rather than the siloing of our ageing citizens to senior-only housing enclaves like these, what kind of alternate typology can rebuild generational ties and reflect the diversity of our population?

‘Sex, drugs and golf carts’, ‘Happy hour’



At the conceptual stage, I began to examine New Zealand’s quintessential suburban dwelling and its compatibility with intergenerational life through the home in which my grandmother and I reside. The home's familiar layout is deconstructed, duplicated, and reassembled, transforming the pre-existing suburban streetscape. Deconstructed components are rearranged along a grid of intersecting corridors.

Split plans
Grandma's house - Split
Elevation collage
The NZ single-family home is deconstructed and reassembled.
Model photo2
The split home rearranged - Irregular vs uniform.



The aim of this thesis became clear: The development of a housing system that can adapt to an ageing population through intergenerational and communal modes of organisation.

Family shifts
A typology which provides for family shifts through time.

To achieve this, I looked toward experimenting in the suburbs, where ageing-in-place most commonly occurs.

In the suburbs, we see densification of the existing private land ownership-based, single-family home typology with a lack of consideration for ageing in place or flexible intergenerational life. Although this form of development provides density, is it good density?

My design tests a housing system that seeks to foster a new denser mode of living together while maintaining a connection to our familiar suburbs. The experiment reimagines stage two of a developer's proposal on a suburban site in Papatoetoe.

Site iso
Stage two of the developer's proposal reimagined.

Form and materiality continue to draw from the surrounding suburban vernacular, this alternative form seeks to facilitate flexibility; in age, density and use.

Like a giant staircase, life occurs between landings, meandering and communal.

16:00 | Tea on the rooftop
Moment3 2
15:30 | Afterschool meetup
Perspective section
Model photo3