The Open House
The Open House
by Pierluigi Colombo

Changes in lifestyle and demographics are creating shifts in housing demand across the United States: approximately one third of households are now single adults living alone; roommate and multi-generational living situations are on the rise; and with a rapidly aging population, housing options that support aging-in-place are becoming more and more necessary. American housing is designed far more around how people lived in 1950 (when 43% of all households were nuclear families with one or more children) than it is around how people live today.
Closing the gap between how people live and how homes are designed is at the heart of Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, an exhibition presented by the National Building Museum, Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC),Resource Furniture and Clei.
The center piece of Making Room is The Open House a 1,000-square-foot (92 m2) concept home installed directly in the exhibition galleries for visitors to experience and explore. Featuring a hyper-efficient layout, smart technologies, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture from Clei, the Open House demonstrates how a flexible space can meet the needs of a variety of today's fastest-growing and underserved households.
The interior furnishings of The Open House has been be changed twice during the exhibition's run to showcase how this space can adapt to seamlessly accommodate three entirely different living arrangements > roommates (SCENARIO 1), an extended family (SCENARIO 2) and a retired couple (SCENARIO 3).

National Building Museum / Washington DC / USA
Nov 2017 > Jan 2019
Interior Design / Exhibition > Making Room: Housing for a Changing America
100 m² / 1076 ft²

Photo by Yassine El Mansouri, courtesy of National Building Museum
Video courtesy of Builder online, National Building Museum

Scenario 1

The Roommates

The first configuration of the home, on display for the first three months, was designed to meet the needs of two single adults along with a couple. To accommodate a roommate household, the layout of The Open House maximizes private space. When the automated moving walls are fully closed, each roommate has complete privacy; when fully retracted, bedrooms can be combined to create a larger living spaces for socializing. Each living space, including the larger one shared by the couple, is outfitted with Clei wall beds and built-in storage.

It's no surprise that renters can save money by getting a roommate. These savings, combined with increased student loan debt and a trend toward delayed marriage, help explain why 20 percent of U.S. households consist of adults living with roommates or adult relatives, according to CHPC *

Photo > courtesy of Carl Cox, National Building Museum
Animation > Neoscape, developed with Resource Furniture and Clei, courtesy National Building Museum

Scenario 2

The Extended Family

To meet the needs of a multi generational household, The Open House accommodates living communally, but with flexibility. In this 2nd scenario, a grandmother lives with her adult daughter and grandson. When open, the partition walls allows for a single, large living area during the day, and when closed, creates individual bedrooms for the mother and child at night. The private room with its own bathroom gives the grandmother an indipendent space, while still remaining connected to the household.

In 2014, 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived in a multigenerational household. For the first time in 130 years, more adults aged 18 to 34 lived with their parents than in any other single type of housing situation, including living with a spouse or living alone *

Animation > Neoscape, developed with Resource Furniture and Clei, courtesy National Building Museum

Scenario 3

The Retirees

To serve a two-in-one household, The Open House seamlessly becomes two independent homes. In this 3nd configuration, an older couple that wants to stay in its existing home can nevertheless downsize by converting ,with the addition of a modular kitchen, the largest bedroom into a self-contained studio apartment with its own entrance and full bath. They can rent out this apartment for additional income, provide the space to a live-in renter or caregive. The main living area features a motorized wall bed for ease of use, and a dedicated dining area with hidden bunk beds. When the moving wall systems are closed, the dining room becomes a bedroom for their guest.

Some 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, with the senior population, now numbering 46 million, projected to more than double by 2060. Aging-in-place concerns are a top consideration for designers as Baby Boomers retire. According to the exhibit organizers, 87 percent of seniors say they want to stay in their current home and neighborhood as they grow older *

Photo > courtesy of Resource Furniture
Animation > courtesy of National Building Museum
Video > courtesy of Builder online, National Building Museum

* David Friedlander DWELL

For more info about the exhibition

Download the general catalogue