Yokohama Communal Elderly Housing

Project Statement

PROJECT TITLE: Yokohama Communal Elders Housing


Retired elders of both genders living in Yokohama, Japan. Elders who are still able and do not need great assistance (are still healthy enough to move around more so than elders with a greater need for assistance)


It would provide assistance for elders in need (most live alone and need security and help if they have any sudden health issues). It would also allow the elders to feel like they are not alone, feeling a sense of community. Allowing a more vibrant atmosphere in the housings will make the elders more energetic and feel less trapped (unlike the usual the retirement homes).


A modern structure that is vibrant and lively, creating a more energetic atmosphere for elders. This allows them to feel less tired, tricking their mood. Also making it inviting for their relatives to visit as well.

The housing will consist of 8 rooms in total. There will be an area dedicated to a communal kitchen and dining area, as well as a library and quiet places outside of their rooms. There will be a communal garden for people to be able to plant their own plants and flowers (and vegetation that they can use for cooking). The dining room can be used for other needs, like game nights.

Within the rooms will be their own bathrooms and possibly their own kitchens when they would like personal time, but also a communal kitchen with dedicated cooking class times.

Most of the rooms will use wood, except for stairs/ramp walks (there will be elevators mostly) which should probably be carpeted in case of falling.

There will be room for tatami rooms and Japanese tea ceremonies they can participate in. Also, a shrine so people can pray. Also, a small gym/room for elders to exercise/stretch (not too extreme).

If there is space, possibly add a class where college students can be paid for short lessons about something random (like art, etc.) and interesting that elders can go to (the idea that elders can interact with college students and people from a different generation).

Location: Replace current area where elders home is in my neighborhood, or location where an unused parking lot is currently.


Being able to bring elders together into a friendly and open community where, after retirement, elders can still enjoy and participate in activities. By implementing a building like this, it will solve issues with the elderly not wanting to go into retirement homes because of the fear of boredom and ‘being in a hospital’. Many of my friends whose family members are retiring and have health issues have trouble adjusting because they would rather stay in their homes (even though it is unsafe to be unattended if they have health issues).

To make this atmosphere more energetic and vibrant, spacing and the communal aspect if vital. Many opportunities for elders to work and communicate with each other is important, while still providing space for elders to have alone time and not feel too overwhelmed. Natural light from roofing would be very effective to provide nature into the setting, besides a garden. Maintaining Japanese traditions is important, like shrines and tatami rooms where elders can feel like they are back in their original homes. Allowing cooking classes and other classes where people living in the housing can interact, and also be more active and have fun is a major focus of this project. Giving a more welcoming and communal feel to elders housings, where their children and grandchildren can visit more often, is the primary goal to give elders a happier home where they can have leisure time as well as still have opportunities so they are not bored.

Case Studies

#1: Residential and Care Center Humanitas

Location → Denventer, Netherlands

Objective → Allow residential care to elders while allowing university students to live rent-free if they reside with an elder

This project is very interesting because it combats two different issues and creates a solution for both with just one housing. In Amsterdam, for example, they were short 9,000 dorms in 2014, alongside the rental prices are increasing while living conditions are worsening, thus the issue with college students finding a suitable place to live. With elders, the Dutch government decided to cut the budget for long-term care for elders (age over 80), even though the elder population is increasing, thus the issue of with elders care.

This is a great project because while it is helping two different issues, this project has also opened up communities and different generations to converse and interact with one another. This project idea has gained popularity and other countries are taking this idea too (France, United States).

#2: Nursing Home in France

Location → Paris, France

Architects → Atelier Du Pont, Luc Pinsard, Ariane Rouveyrol, Aline Defert

Objective → Need for housing but making the building for multi-usable purposes

This project is interesting because of the organizational layout of their design and how they were able to make use of this building for multiple purposes: nursing home, social housing, private housing, religious center, and retail businesses into one building. Since it is located in a very big and busy city, the main part of the building with nursing homes is located right at the “heart of the city” where the residents can have a vibrant experience. It is positioned so that it feels like there is a lot of space but also experiencing the pace of the city.

This project has a much more modern approach to the design of elderly housing in that the interior design is not traditional at all, using marble material and colorful furniture.

#3: Elderly Care Skarvet

Location →  Vaxjo, Sweden

Architects → Kjellander Sjoberg, Lena Viterstedt, Ola Kjellander

Objective → An elderly care facility where elders can socialize with one another

This project is interesting because it ties along with my own project idea to have elders interact with one another and be very communal based. Besides the interesting outer design and basic interior design with a kitchen and bedroom, they also have communal rooms: an assembly hall, a conservatory, physiotherapy facility, greenhouse, and courtyard.

Client Interviews

Client (users) → Independent elders (able on their own mostly, but there would still be assistance), retired elders, elders living on their own



  1. How do you feel about the current building (or facilities) of elderly housing in your area right now? Why?
  2. What is something you like about current elderly housing? Or about your home right now?
  3. What is bad about the current elderly housing now?
  4. Do you like a lot of personal time or would you like a space for the community? How much interaction with others do you like?
  5. Do you spend a lot of your time indoors or outdoors? What activities do you enjoy?
  6. Given the opportunity, would you attend classes and small workshops if they were offered?
  7. Would you prefer a shrine area for the whole community or personal ones within your own room?
  8. What is your favorite room in your house?
  9. What style do you like (clean, rustic, etc.)?


Interview Notes:

I conversed with a friends grandpa. They moved here to be with him after his wife passed away. They moved intentionally because her grandfather was alone and he did not want to move out of his own house or move into an elderly housing facility. (These are half-way translated as he knows little English but my friend helped with our communication)

  • There are not too many elders housing in my area even though most everyone around here is also older, like me, which is weird. But the elder’s homes that are near are very apartment like and are small rooms where most of the residents don’t usually interact
  • ^one reason why he didn’t want to live in one of those homes
  • The current elderly housings are nicely facilitated (a clean, cared facility). ← but this comes across as hospital-like
  • I love my house right now, I just renovated it and have a nice wallpaper. Since it was the house my daughter grew up in, it has important history
  • ^another reason why didn’t want to leave
  • The bad part of the housing is how claustrophobic it is. There are too many people who reside in the one area (this is something I also heard from another person, whose parents had protested against the construction of an elders building that now houses roughly 30-50 elders (in the city), making the building like an apartment with only the elderly).
  • ^he was mixed about having privacy and person time and some community building. He would like community building. He wants to be able to have time to himself since he is an artist and loves painting, but wants to be able to go outside and have friends to hang out with also.
  • I would love to attend a class! If the facilities near me had opportunities for classes in their homes I would probably think twice about my decisions, and would possibly want to live there for that.
  • I would personally love a shrine within my own room. It’s fine if there is a public shrine since for New Years and special holidays people usually gather around the shrines. But I would personally want my own because I want to be able to pray and display pictures of my wife and give her food, which is something intimate and personal that shouldn’t be a public space.
  • I favorite place in my house is the private study room, where I just work on my art. I can get lost in my work, but it’s nice because it allows me to focus better.
  • I like the “clean” look, put together. But something unique to it, different from most Japanese buildings, would be nice since I am an artist and love seeing interesting designs.

Site Analysis

Site Place Location:


In the corner in between the two buildings is actually a patio and then a fence around its edge. This is part of the design that I really like about this building. If I were to recreate this building in a different way, I would have this patio not be in the shade all the time (it would be located in a sunnier area). I also like the idea of the main entrance being in a different area from the residential housing, but with it being a small space, it might be better to have one building that is sectioned by floors (i.e. main entrance is the first floor, second floor residential housing, etc. — not quite sure yet if this the actual layout). The garden is very nicely placed at the entrance which I personally like, but if the spacing is possible I would create more space for gardening (and possibly even on the roofs, with fences along them).


(the covering when it rains)


  • They have one communal dining room
  • Garden space at the entrance, and benches to sit in the garden

  • Patio benches on the rooftop
  • Bathrooms are communal (like a school bathroom, not in individual rooms)
  • Showers are communal (Onsen → public showering)

For myself personally (it might be my western side), I would rather not have to share bathrooms and showers with others. Most Japanese people, however, are used to this and are fine with it. But I think that it might be better to have their own bathrooms in their room, especially since it would be closer to them in cases of emergency. It would be nice for them to have privacy and have their own showers as well, but it might be hazardous if they slip or have an accident. As a precaution, I will probably give people a button (like in the commercials) to have with them always, to send an alert to the front desk of my building. Also, it would be nice to have a button for them in their rooms, or showers, if something would ever happen.

  • Gym, exercise area


Most all of the buildings around it are residential buildings, mostly apartment complexes. There is also a train station two blocks away, and a small grocery store a block away (a supermarket is about four blocks away).


The feel of the site if very homey and cozy. Most of the people in that area have lived there a while and many people run into people they know as they walk across the street. It is considered to be in a “city”, but in the location that it is currently in is mostly a quiet residential area. There is a big street on the other side (top road in the image) which can get very loud (that is the street that I am on). A lot of motorcycles and trucks pass there, but the two streets the site is located on is very quiet.

Needs Analysis


  • 8 residential rooms (with a bathroom/shower and bed)
  • Cafeteria/dining room/lounging room
  • Kitchen (with dining tables — like a home)
  • Tatami room (with a small shrine area)
  • One communal bathroom on the first floor (the room will have multiple stalls/doors)
  • 2 multipurpose rooms that can be changed into a classroom (or a dance room, etc. — a room with enough space to be used for any purpose)


  • First-floor area is basically a hallway for the main entrance — check-in, etc. (not a room)
  • The roof will have a garden (not a room)

Bubble Diagrams

Mood Board

Site Plan

Floor Plan




Elevations and Perspectives





Drawings – Design Development

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