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Interlock House

Target Market

The Interlock House caters to older adults who want to live independently, economically, and sustainably in their own home while retaining the security of an established neighborhood and support network. To appeal to this demographic, the house incorporates numerous features designed to prolong the number of years that a person can live independently and comfortably. The house features universal design, with no steps or difficult places to reach. This ensures uninterrupted ease of use and compensates for the sensory and mobility losses associated with aging. Certain features, such as the enclosed sun porch and ventilation, may help individuals with certain chronic conditions. For instance, arthritis sufferers may benefit from the therapeutic warmth of sitting on the sun porch.

The house is intended to introduce new home buyers into established neighborhoods where older people, who want to remain in their homes organize self-help networks, or naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC). It is possible to envision the Interlock House being built on an oversized lot of friends or family members within an existing neighborhood.

It is this increase in density and support networks that the team feels is crucial to making the house attractive to Baby Boomers hoping to "age in place." This is an increasingly important demographic, as Baby Boomers will constitute 20 percent of the U.S. population in 10 years' time.

Find out more about aging in place and naturally occurring retirement communities:

Universal Design

"Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design."1 Thus, "universal" encompasses not only all people, but all aspects of our house's form.

As more Baby Boomers begin to retire and enter old age, universal design is becoming increasingly relevant for American homes. In 10 years, individuals above 65 years of age will make up 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Some examples of universal design in the Interlock House include a bathroom that meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessibility; a lack of steps or other barriers to movement for individuals in walkers or wheelchairs; color selection that improves visual contrast for individuals with poor sight; and kitchen cabinetry that can be configured for either temporary or permanent wheelchair access.

For more information on universal design in your home:

1 Excerpt from Universal Design: Housing for the Lifespan of all People. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1998.

Major sponsors Iowa State University U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory