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The family life cycle and family needs in a housing project : a case study of the Westview Garden Apartments, North Vancouver Yamamoto, Tomizo

Abstract

The objective of this study is to discern how family needs in housing change through the stages of the family life cycle. The Westview Garden Apartments, a townhouse and apartment development in North Vancouver was chosen for conducting this study. For the collection of residents' behavioral data, a number of family member's daily activity log records were obtained through a series of interviews. The data were collected in the period from September 1973 to April 1974, during which time my family and I occupied one of the housing units in this project. The family life cycle is divided into eight stages, from arrival of the first baby to the elderly couple. The following activity patterns of a selected number of families in each stage were traced through the analysis of their activity log records; Sleeping, Eating, Housekeeping, Shopping, Children Playing, Evening Sitting, Socializing and Family Recreational Activities. From these activity patterns, together with the residents' opinions about their housing, and adding to this the author's own observation of the daily life in the sample project, the family's needs in each stage were discerned. After that the design of sample housing was examined in detail. The findings clearly indicate the variations in family needs affecting their housing requirements through the life cycle. The author concludes that the present housing system has difficulty in accommodating changing family needs. Many families are either forced to move or suffer from living in an incongruent residence. To improve this situation, two directions in future family housing are suggested. 1) An adaptable housing system should be developed. This can accommodate individual family's special needs and reflect the changing needs in their life cycle. Families should be able to assist in designing, building and altering their own houses without high costs or much skill. The author believes it is possible to produce such housing with advanced technology. 2) The present space distribution for daily family activities in private and public space, must be reconsidered. Many family needs which are now being met within the individual housing unit could be satisfied more satisfactorily in neighbourhood communal spaces. In future urban housing development, there is bound to be a large proportion of multiple dwellings. This demands new ways of communal living. The individual, in future housing, must have maximum power to control his own residence and his neighbourhood.

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