The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran

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By Paige Alexus / Published by Dwell
After months of planning and construction, the Memphis house that's been renovated as a result of the Home Today, Home Tomorrow Design Challenge is being revealed today—and being donated to a veteran and his family.

A few months ago, we reported on the competition where architects were asked to submit a design that would turn an outdated, cramped 1960s house in Memphis, Tennessee, into an affordable, accessible home that would incorporate universal design features. Hosted by Home Matters, AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, the goal was to create a house—with a budget of $75,000—that would allow the homeowner and his or her family to age-in-place through multiple stages of life. 

The winning design, which came from IBI Group – Gruzen Samton (Gabriel Espinoza, Carmen Velez, and Timothy Gargiulo), has now been implemented into the Memphis home and is being donated to Walter Moody—a local U.S. Army veteran—and his growing family. Take a look below to see how the winning design plans were translated into the final accessible home. 

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 1 of 8 - The winning design from IBI Group – Gruzen Samton was designed to encourage community interaction. They planned to install planter beds in the front yard that would give its residents the opportunity to take up gardening in the future—a hobby that’s known to benefit the elderly. 

The winning design from IBI Group – Gruzen Samton was designed to encourage community interaction. They planned to install planter beds in the front yard that would give its residents the opportunity to take up gardening in the future—a hobby that’s known to benefit the elderly. 

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 2 of 8 - One of the main obstacles of the original house was that there were several steps that led up to the front door, which made it difficult for someone in a wheelchair to access it. The final renovated house (shown here) now has a smooth, sloped driveway that eliminates the need for steps. 

One of the main obstacles of the original house was that there were several steps that led up to the front door, which made it difficult for someone in a wheelchair to access it. The final renovated house (shown here) now has a smooth, sloped driveway that eliminates the need for steps. 

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 3 of 8 - One of the other main plans the architecture team proposed was to build a glass addition on one end of the house that would introduce natural light into the kitchen and dining area.  

One of the other main plans the architecture team proposed was to build a glass addition on one end of the house that would introduce natural light into the kitchen and dining area.  

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 4 of 8 - They planned to build a deck that would host outdoor dining tables to create a closer connection to the community. A carport was also installed to the right of this area for shaded parking. 

They planned to build a deck that would host outdoor dining tables to create a closer connection to the community. A carport was also installed to the right of this area for shaded parking. 

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 5 of 8 - Along with exterior sunscreens, they installed interior shades that can be lowered for privacy and protection from the sun when desired. 

Along with exterior sunscreens, they installed interior shades that can be lowered for privacy and protection from the sun when desired. 

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 6 of 8 - Large rolling doors create easy-to-maneuver dividers between the living space and the bedrooms.

Large rolling doors create easy-to-maneuver dividers between the living space and the bedrooms.

The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 7 of 8 - The bathroom was designed with an open layout to provide enough space for someone in a wheelchair to operate comfortably.

The bathroom was designed with an open layout to provide enough space for someone in a wheelchair to operate comfortably.


The Winning Vision From a Universal Design Competition Is Brought to Life For a Veteran - Photo 8 of 8 - The final result includes an accessible layout with plenty of storage space and dual sinks at different levels for both the adults and the young ones.

The final result includes an accessible layout with plenty of storage space and dual sinks at different levels for both the adults and the young ones.