Gordon Walker's Retirement Cottage: Getting Older Doesn't Mean Ditching Good Design

Gordon Walker's Retirement Cottage: Getting Older Doesn't Mean Ditching Good Design

Catrin Morris
Oct 11, 2011

Getting older doesn't mean you have to abandon your design and decor sensibilities and head for the nearest pastel-hued retirement community. Or so believes well-known Seattle architect Gordon Walker, who is now 72. Walker says most apartments designed for seniors are like "parking garages for old people." "I can't find anything in the senior realm that I'd consider dying in, let alone living in." So what did he do? He built the ultimate retirement cottage out on Orcas Island in Washington State. And it is magnificent.

The home, where he lives with his wife, is modular and prefabricated, based on a 16-foot grid small enough to fit on a flatbed truck. The house is made of stock materials: six-lam plywood for countertops, high-density fiberboard and vertical-grain fir doors. Contemporary and high-concept touches include a lot of glass, exposed steel beams and concrete floors.

Walker thought others of his generation would be equally inspired by his radical yet realistic model for retirement living. So drew up a plan to build a series of four small and inexpensive modular units that would comprise a condo group. But the plan never got any traction. "The baby boomers are coming of age, and I always imagined that they were more design-minded than they turned out to be," he told the Seattle Times.

For more information about Gordon Walker visit Build Blog and Live Modern.

Image: Michael Burns via Build Blog

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