Architecture for an aging america

Pearisburg, VA
5th Year Thesis, Virginia Tech

By 2050, America’s population aging sixty-five years and older is expected to more than double to eighty-nine million persons. Currently, less than 1% of housing in the United States is considered livable for the older population. The lack of accessible and affordable housing can result in premature stays in nursing homes or the inability to return home after a hospitalization.

In our fifth-year thesis, we aimed to study how architecture can foster livability for the aging population at the scale of a house, and we partnered with Virginia Tech’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity to design a housing model that achieved our vision.

A livable housing model goes far beyond the ‘no-step’ entry. It should allow for any resident to use the full extent of their home, while enhancing space to improve their quality of life. The question of our thesis asked how we accomplish that in a world where the bottom line is a reality and the lack of livable housing is jeopardizing the safety of older Americans. 

Current and future generations of Americans stand to benefit from a change in the way we design our communities. Design has the power to support safety, diversity, and spirit within the community.

The aging population is a force that will affect our entire society, and we cannot ignore the realities of the impact it will have on our country. As designers, our work begins here, in the most humble architecture of the home.