Christine Sanchez, who expects to graduate in December from the School of Architecture at USF in Tampa, recently won third prize in a national competition to design a home for an aging population.
Her innovative design uses a teakwood paneling "envelope" around the house that starts as a ramp, then becomes the deck, and wraps around to become the walls and roof.
The home also is sustainably designed. It is oriented to the northeast to avoid glaring sun. The angled roof allows for solar panels and rainwater collection.
Sanchez, 23, said her grandfather inspired her to design a home where a resident could age in place. "He lived in Puerto Rico, and there's a very negative connotation to placing the elderly in homes in Latin American culture," she said. "All his children lived in the States, he was alone and in a wheelchair, and he had to go into a nursing home in Puerto Rico."
In her winning project, the ramp and porch provide wheelchair accessibility as well as "security, comfort and memory," she said in her thesis statement. The user is free to access all parts of the property, which provides "a sense of security and ownership." The seamless transition from indoor to outdoor "serves to visually acknowledge the outdoor space and the memories and times spent outside."
Sanchez received $750 in the Ethel Andrus Percy House of Freedom Design Competition, which attracted entries from more than 40 schools. The competition is sponsored by AARP and the American Institute of Architecture Students. The competition highlights aging in place with dignity; universal design; and accommodating the needs of a family regardless of age and ability.