MADRID – Why move back in with the parents? A notion which some people dread, but find the economic temptation hard to avoid. Ana Mombiedro is one of many individuals, aged between 25 and 40, who are part of a trend in re-colonising their parents’ home. Enorme Studio has been researching the trend in Madrid, the firm’s third case study completed with sponsorship from furniture giant IKEA. The architect advertised the project and Ana responded; the workshops that followed addressed the complexities of a new phase in the life of Ana and her family.
Enorme Studio reviewed the generic phases of a family life-cycle and proposed that an alternate phase exists: ‘de-emancipation’. Recognising this phase helps to develop a further understanding of family relations. The emancipation phase of a family occurs when the child leaves the family home and pursues autonomy. At this stage, the parents are also going through a developmental phase – re-discovering their coupledom. The newly recognised phase of re-entering the home brings about relationship complexities between increasingly independent children and ever more self-directed parents, complexities that under separate roofs would not have occurred.
It’s nice to think that people can learn independently how to relate to others, cohabitating in a world of diversity. Often, however, political methods are required to manage relationships. House rules don’t seem right when grown adults flat-share with their parents, particularly if only stipulated by one party. Instead, the architect and the participant utilised workshops to establish the requirements of the project hoping that design diplomacy might be the solution. A conversation, rather than a policy maker, was the foundation of the project’s process.
When Ana returned to her parents’ home, she discovered that there was no available room for her. Instead, she was offered a portion of the living room to ‘make her own’ while sharing the overall space with her parents. Her living location introduced a need to consider a balance between the realms of public and private.
The intervention allows Ana to sleep, study and socialise with others while communicating her personality. Items acquired from IKEA were ‘hacked’ into multifunctional, transformable furniture arranged to manage the relationship between Ana’s space and the communal area. The bed closes up to increase the study area. The shelves for shoes, books and clothes double as a grandstand for everyone. The reconstituted items express Ana’s personal style, taking the furniture further than IKEA’s standard products.
The project supports Ana’s autonomy while maintaining and extending a space that had the potential to be overtaken by colonial architecture. Cohabitation has prospered through conversation and a clever approach to the use of space.