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Brief Published: 11 Jan 2018

Building Homes for the Changing US Household

Making Room exhibition

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America – an exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. – explores how US homes can be restructured to better serve the needs of the contemporary American household.

According to the museum, nuclear families comprised only 20% of US households in 2017, while the percentage of solo dwellers and multi-generational households is rising – a trend Stylus originally outlined in 2012 (see The Evolution of the Multi-Generational Home).

The exhibit centres around a 1,000 sq ft interactive concept apartment called The Open House, designed by Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo, who previously collaborated with the Museum of the City of New York on an exhibit about micro-apartments. This focus on apartment living reflects an overall increase in single-person households (see Independent Singletons).

The apartment features soundproof, collapsible walls that can be moved to create separate living areas; pull-down vertical closets made of brushed steel; and standing showers with doors that fold against the wall for wheelchair accessibility. These features build on the interactive, inclusive designs covered in our report Smarter Spaces: Optimising the Home.

As well as maximising space, the furnishings are also inclusive for all ages and abilities – there's even a stovetop that can be lowered for wheelchair users. The exhibit concludes with a survey of new US micro-apartments, co-living spaces and accessible houses.

The exhibit runs until September 16 2018. The layout of the apartment will change every three months to showcase arrangements for roommates, multi-generational families and multiple households.