Beyond-the-family Kin Housing / Ignacio G. Galán + OF Architects
Text description provided by the architects. Beyond-the-family Kin is a platform for empowering aging. It operates within a network of infrastructures shaping a renewed social movement for aging in place. Countering the increasing isolation of older residents or their subjection to institutionalized forms of residence, the project hosts diverse forms of care across generations beyond the nuclear family both within and outside the house and furnishes technological and financial strategies supporting the life of its occupants.
Located at the end of a row of single-family houses on the outskirts of the city, the project combines diverse living arrangements on each of its three floors, with different degrees of autonomy and interdependence between them. While none of them neatly responds to the needs of the hegemonic family, together they facilitate kinship-in-the-making: the first floor, accessed through the street through a short ramp, contains a sequence of spaces for an aging couple with increasing mobility difficulties; above it, a pair of rooms flanking a living space is planned to host the couple’s frequent visitors within their extended and chosen family; the lower level is organized as a one-bedroom apartment that the couple could rent to pursue financial stability or might host an attendant should they need one. The proximity of the city’s main university campus could also lead to rehearsing models that connect students and aging individuals for affordable housing, shared resources, and mutual care. Ultimately, Beyond-the-family Kin counters constructed notions of the family house as an autonomous and stable social unit while acknowledging the relations of dependency between the inhabitants and their social and material environments.
A cascading sequence of terraces enhances a range of ecologies and activities hosted within the project, creates opportunities for socialization between the different occupants of the residence, and grounds the house within diverse networks of the neighborhood. The front terrace, which the project privileges, enables a strong connection with the street and favors the formation of a loose community of neighbors—countering current design strategies for row houses in the area that favor a more secluded backyard. Several rolling pots and a beehive on the roof terrace are part of a system of urban farms that prevails in the neighborhood despite its recent parcel subdivisions and densification while other gardening opportunities are distributed throughout the project. A small pool serves for exercising for the residents and their friends. With a ridge silhouette in dialogue with suburban industrial facilities and its stark color palette, the house seeks to attain a certain centrality in the neighborhood despite its small scale—as a key node of its social life. Neither nostalgic about old forms of sociality nor submitting to the contemporary isolation of aging populations, the project celebrates open and malleable linkages and affiliations.
Finally, several interconnected formal and technological strategies favor the energy efficiency and environmental quality of the project. The house’s complex volume allows the majority of its rooms to open in more than one façade, facilitating cross ventilation and natural cooling, which are enhanced by the staircase operating as an air shaft. Operable windows in the living room’s sawtooth roof enhance both lighting and ventilation in this key space. Automatized louvers in the windows control heat gains and lighting from different orientations. A prominent structure in the roof optimizes the orientation of the solar panels that power an extremely efficient system of heating and cooling radiating floors. Combined with a rear-ventilated curtain-wall tile facade with rain-screen ceramic cladding and corrugated steel panels, these systems guarantee that no AC will be needed in the project even in the extreme weather of Madrid. Conceived as overlapping approaches to empowering the life of its aging occupants, these strategies are additionally committed to preserving the rights of future generations.