Aging Interactively

Current senior housing options in Philadelphia do not allow people to pursue their interests in meaningful ways, and residents who cannot leave them lack the unpredictable stimulation of city life.  This proposed community is built upon the individual skills of residents.  It is an alternative model of senior housing that fosters residents’ interests and self-determination and provides a diverse range of options for social interaction.  The project is located on an active main street in Northern Liberties, and it is intended to be an asset to the neighborhood as much as the neighborhood will be an asset to the residents.  The typology of this community-within-a-community is the street; a series of street-ramps begin at the central courtyard and wind up to the rooftop gardens, and each living unit opens directly onto one of these “streets”.

The majority of the target residents are relatively independent people looking for a supportive community with amenities such as nursing or meals as needed, but also use of their skills and interests and a connection to the surrounding neighborhood.  The rest of the residents include some highly dependent people and some people who want to play less active roles.  The community is based around food, craft, and care, with gardens for growing food, a restaurant, community cooking facilities, workshops, and interwoven adult and child daycare centers.


Vegetable gardens next to communal cooking spaces next to communal eating areas


A street-ramp with a view of the vegetable gardens


A small courtyard in the Dependent Care living area is connected to a children’s playground

(The painting on the left is by Berenice Michelow)


Model of wood, acrylic, and chipboard


Ground Plan


Second floor plan


Section through communal eating, communal cooking, and vegetable garden

PennDesign, 601 Studio, Instructor: Tim McDonald, 2010

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