News Home & Design Compact House Is a Multigenerational Live-Work Space for Aging in Place Built to fit a narrow urban lot, this house is carefully designed around the clients' lifestyle. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated April 29, 2021 07:13PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Aging populations in cities around the world can face a number of potential accessibility issues when it comes to getting around the city, and inside their homes. Designing accessible homes for the elderly or those who will want to "age-in-place" means eliminating stairs, or widening hallways, and adding ramps to make spaces more wheelchair-accessible. In Osaka, Japan, one middle-aged couple hired architects of Yoshihiro Yamamoto Architects Atelier to help them create a new residence that would be home to them and to one elderly mother-in-law. Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) Built on top of the site of their previous home, the 968-square-foot dwelling serves as a live/workspace, from where they can operate their cosmetics company. As YYAA explains: "In the downtown area of Osaka City, many projects are underway to rebuild small old wooden houses into high-rise condominiums. Cities are becoming safer and more efficient, but more inorganic and homogeneous. The client couple and his mother lived in a wooden building where office, warehouse and residence coexist, where they have long run a cosmetics company. However, the patchwork building had many structural and insulation problems and was not a comfortable place to live in old age, so they decided to demolish it and build a new one." While we have often said that the greenest building is the one that's still standing, this kind of situation is where constructing from scratch might make more sense in terms of longevity and long-term energy efficiency. The new house was envisioned as something "compact and easy to use like a toolbox." Arranged as a long floor plan to fit the narrow site, the new Toolbox House is a single-story structure that has several skylights punctuating its durable steel roof, which permits plenty of natural light to filter in. Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) The home's entrance features a distinctive, angular metal roof that appears to wrap down and into the ground, clearly signifying the entry. The architects say: "By extending the roof and firewall towards the road, we improve the visibility of the office and make the entrance a semi-outdoor multipurpose space for unloading, meetings and machine maintenance." Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) The house's exterior is completely clad with galvanized steel sheeting, a durable material that also lends it a modern look. This side of the house is almost uniformly covered in the material, protecting the interior from urban noise, or prying eyes from the street. Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) Stepping inside past the entrance, we come into the more public-facing zone of the house, which has that multipurpose space for meetings and the workshop. Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) Just behind the multipurpose space we have an elongated office space, which has its own door to access the main kitchen (seen here in the photos below, looking toward the front of the house from the kitchen). Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) On the other side of the wall of the office is a long hallway, which connects the bedrooms for the couple and any guests that might visit. To save precious space in this narrow house, sliding doors have been installed on all the rooms. Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) The kitchen is further in at the rear of the house, and has been done with an open plan layout, comprising of a large kitchen island and a dining table. Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) Open shelving has been used to clearly display various kitchen items and family treasures. The architects note: "The simple kitchen made of plywood is large enough to work with family and friends, and the dining area faces a small garden on the north side. The mother's room is located close to the [bathroom], and she can live a little distance from the couple." Yohei Sasakura (SASANOKURASHA) Ultimately, the project carefully takes into account the present and future needs of both the couple and the mother-in-law. This permits them to not only live the lifestyle that suits them currently but also leaves it flexible enough to adapt to whatever needs they may have in the future. This means they can grow old together in the years to come without fear of being uprooted, right here at the place they feel most at home. To see more, visit YYAA, their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.