For nearly two years, Precious Aquino’s mother, Arlyn Lamigo, has lived with her in the Brisbane rental home she shares with her husband Jeff and their six children. Ms Lamigo has not been able to return to the Philippines since arriving in mid-2019 for a visit.
She has been visiting the family regularly since moving to Brisbane in 2012. Although their current situation is a consequence of COVID, they all lived together in the Philippines before moving to Australia. So-called multi-generational living is a common practice in most Asian households.
“We have lived [together] in my parents’ house [in the Philippines]. Yeah, so that’s nothing new,” Ms. Aquino told SBS Filipino. Looking ahead, their situation seems unlikely to change as the Philippines remains on high alert with around 10,000 new COVID cases recorded daily and severely restricted flights.
“We are very grateful that she is here. For me, it’s less worrying. I know like many of my friends here, they continue to worry about their relatives in the Philippines with the pandemic,” the 41-year-old mother added.
Precious and Jeff, both chefs by training, chose their current five-bedroom home with their Philippines-based mothers in mind. Before COVID hit, they took turns caring for their children while they worked. With a spacious yard and a separate granny flat, Ms Lamigo said the current home is perfectly family-friendly and the design is quite similar to the design of multi-generational homes at home.
Design of three houses
In July, a newly designed multi-generational house in Brisbane was named the 2021 Australian House of the Year in the Houses Awards organized by Architecture Media. Built in the inner-city suburb of Paddington, Three House was designed for a couple from Penang, Malaysia, who wanted a home design that could accommodate the couple’s parents but “still felt like they weren’t living not above each other”.
Three House architect John Ellway said the house’s flexible design allows for varied use and can easily respond to the changing circumstances of family groups over time.
“What makes it kind of special is that different owners can use the house in different ways. I think it can be two houses. So a multi-generational family maybe. And the good thing about that is that over time you can add another wall very simply and make three houses out of it. I think as architects it’s important to think about how the house could be used later,” explained Mr. Elway.
Mr Ellway told SBS Filipino that early in his time at university, designing a multi-generational home was something he “identified as quite important”.
The award-winning architect from Brisbane has traveled extensively across Asia, with several of his recent trips to Malaysia to consult with the client for this design.
George Town, the World Heritage capital of the Malaysian state of Penang, is a thriving model of interculturalism and proud of its rich culinary history. It had a distinct influence on the interior design where the kitchen/dining room – with its charcoal tile backsplash, dark worktop and black dining set – is at the center and contrasts richly with the private areas of the house.
The design of sliding wooden shutters with textured glass panels at the bottom was one of the architect’s favorite works on the house.
“I liked thinking about the kind of door and window openings. The ability for people to lock themselves in and have privacy.
But the key to designing for different family groups, he said, is the balance between a sense of place and accessibility to common spaces.
“Everyone feels like they still have their own house, but there are good places to gather,” added the architect.
Multigenerational life in Australia
Brisbane resident Salome Swan currently lives with her daughter and two grandchildren. Prior to moving into her current home, she previously lived with her other daughter and other grandchildren in Paddington, a few blocks from where Three House is located.
Ms Swan is happy to hear that multi-generational living is finally getting some credence in the city center and is now reflected in home design.
“I practically raised my two grandchildren too. We are used to living very close to people. Here we are three people. If we were in the islands, we could fit maybe 12 people in this house,” she said as she walked around her rental house – one of the last remaining freestanding houses on her street in the suburbs. trendy South Brisbane.
“I come from the Pacific; Pacific people live together. This is how we have always been. And even Europeans, like from Bosnia, I know they live [multi-generationally]. So it’s quite common. »
Living with extended family
Visiting grandmother Arlyn Lamigo recalled when all four generations of her family lived together in the same resort in the Philippines and how that gave her father a huge sense of accomplishment.
“I think [it’s] Filipino culture. So my father never [asked us to move out] when we turned 18. In our case, as much as you can, for as long as you can, keep your family together,” Ms. Lamigo explained.
Her daughter Precious is continuing that tradition now with Ms Lamigo living with them in Brisbane after being given another bridging visa after her one-and-a-half-year visitor visa expired last year.
“Because Jeff and I were working full time, we needed someone to take care of the kids, especially the younger ones. So instead of getting them to [day care]we chose to have our parents just come and help us [alternately] every six months,” Ms. Aquino said.
Ms Aquino said granny’s flat in their house has certainly helped give a sense of independence to her two eldest sons, Denzel (19) and Miguel (17), who occasionally throw parties for their friends. She added that having separate entrances provides privacy for her adult children.
room for growth
A 2019 report published jointly by Corelogic and Archistar, said that “more than half a million homeowners on Australia’s east coast have enough space on their property to build a granny flat”.
While the report said it recognized the benefits of granny flats for accommodating “adult children while they save for a mortgage” or aging family members “as they become more dependent on care”, the intention is less to meet the needs of multi-generational families and is instead driven by short-term rental income and capital appreciation.
Asked how he thought this interest in multi-generational home designs might evolve, Mr Ellway said apartments “would be an interesting thing to look at”.
“I think the property of two apartments next to each other. Thus, legal entities and building owners might be willing to establish small relationships through apartments. I guess you have to look at what is the source of the original need for multi-generational living,” Ellway said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics published a report in March 2019 that “nearly a third (30% to 31%) of the Australian population is expected to live with their parents in 2041 (31% in 2016)”.
Ms Swan said the housing sector and building industry need to start thinking differently to meet the needs of many Australians who want to live close together with their extended families.
Part of her work in community development involves finding suitable housing for multi-generational migrant families. She said it shouldn’t be considered a luxury, but rather a social benefit.
“[The] government always talks about social cohesion. The young parents I work with, those who are here without their extended family, are the ones who suffer a little more. Whereas those who have that family support are much better off,” Ms Swan explained.
Ms. Aquino continues to cherish the memories of having four generations in one home in the Philippines. As she and her husband Jeff ran their fine dining restaurant there, she said she never had to worry about the safety of their children with her parents and grandparents there to help look after children.
“We were busy chefs. With four children [then]we were able to give our full attention to all of our growing children.