Students from Northwestern University have created a sophisticated, energy-efficient home that is strategically designed to address the many challenges that come with aging. The solar-powered Enable House was built with various responsive design features – such as movable interior walls that create adaptable spaces through the years. The home’s deck features a beautiful greenhouse-like structure that opens up to the outdoors with sliding walls.
Students from the Northwestern team conducted extensive research within local Chicago communities before creating their responsive home design. In talking with various baby boomers, the team realized that although sustainability is certainly a priority when it comes to living space, people over the age of 55 are increasingly concerned with aging comfortably in their own home.
Inspired to meet the needs of the aging population, the team worked to create a structure that would be incredibly energy efficient, but also functional and adaptable, all in one beautiful package. Team chose to use renewable building materials such as wood and fiber cement cladding to create a sophisticated, but welcoming home.
The glazed sections of the beautiful attached sunroom easily slide open and shut to control air circulation. As an added health benefit, the deck’s glazed walls are treated with a special coating that purifies the air.
The Enable House takes advantage of various sustainable features such as rooftop solar panels and thick structural insulated panels (SIPs), which help insulate the home during Chicago’s frigid winter months. Energy-efficient appliances installed throughout the home help reduce energy use and cost. The design also incorporates air filtering technologies, a living wall, and an innovative system that monitors the home’s VOCs, CO2, dust, and humidity to provide an extremely healthy environment year-round.
The home’s modular interior walls enable a huge variety of layouts, so the home can be reconfigured based on the occupants’ changing needs through the years. For accessibility, the home is equipped with various universal design aspects such as zero-step entrances, single-floor living, wide hallways and doorways, wheelchair-accessible switches, and lever-style door handles and faucets.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat