Rama Gheerawo, Director, The Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art began the morning session by speaking about the work of the Helen Hamlyn Centre. It has designed over 280 projects for 180 organisations. But there is a design problem - where are the people?
Architecture (space and place) is about services. The three principles they use are: co-creation, convention and connection.
Co-creation: work with real people, not stereotypes. They have done a project for the Government on Driverless Vehicles, and older people who could no longer drive were at the forefront of the work.
Convention: urban planning looks at 'beds per hectare', but how can we measure in a more human way, looking at people's abilities rather than their disabilities?
Connection: You cannot solve it with architecture, but you can solve it with services showing where the architectural services are (example: The Great British Toilet Map).
Care homes can be designed by people 60 years younger than the users. Their principle is 'design for your future self'.
David Birbeck, Director, Design for Homes then spoke. David runs the Housing Design Awards, and as a result visits many schemes and speaks to many people.
His key tips are: that apartments need to be bigger than usual, the market won't move/downsize otherwise; location is vital (cannot be isolated); consider the food offer (most successful schemes include a bistro-type cafe which people from outside can access and have an exciting chef).
Jenny Buterchi, Partner, PRP Architects then reflected that there is a lot of divergence in retirement living design, partly due to changes in planning laws and partly because it is being discussed at Government level.
PRP has 4 intergenerational housing approaches: Multigenerational homes, co-living, later living at the heart of the community, and intergenerational masterplans. Multi-generational and co-living both require shared communal spaces. When it comes to later living in the heart of the community the location is key. The design needs to relate to this, and plug into the existing community. Intergenerational Masterplans are where developers are considering lifetimes and make homes 'care ready'.
Designers need to think about how housing can be suitable for all ages, and how it can encourage interactions between generations.
Nick Spittal, Chief Manager at Nationwide Building Society then outlined Nationwide’s new scheme 'Oakfields', which is being built on a brownfield site in Swindon.
Why is Nationwide building homes? It is how the organisation was founded, with a group of people in the 1800s pooling their money to purchase homes.
Oakfield was a 13-acre brownfield site which had formerly housed a school. It is surrounded by housing and shops, and the Council was looking to regenerate the area.
Nationwide wanted to build a community, and create an affordable area. They also wanted the homes to be sustainable (this requirement was added mid-project). The local community were asked to help name the streets with names linked to things such as inspirational people and nature.
Their approach was 'listen first, design second' and they engaged a consultant who visited over 600 homes, and also spoke to people on the streets. As a result, there were no objections when the project went to planning.
Richard Towes, a resident of Clarion then explained that in 2019 Clarion set up a group to see what was offered for residents and what could be improved, with loneliness quickly identified as an issue. Earlier this year Clarion agreed to trial a pilot scheme.
Kayleigh Harris, Homeshare Development and Delivery Officer, Shared Lives Plus then explained how Shared Lives Plus works with Clarion. Homeshare is a shared living model that brings together two unrelated people for mutual benefit, with the homesharer agreeing to offer low level practical support (not care) to the homeowner.
Key issues which Clarion identified which Homeshare provide solutions for are: an ageing population, loneliness and isolation across generations, age segregation, unaffordable private rented sector and low social housing stock, and few options for low level social care. The Clarion pilot tests the viability of homesharing in a social housing setting, which has previously not been offered. In this way it makes the scheme more accessible.
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