With the world getting older and becoming more urban, Laura raises an interesting point to build age-friendly cities.
It is evident all cities need to adapt to meet this demographic change and in order for the city to be age-friendly it must accommodate appropriate housing, whether this is tackled through new housing or adapting existing homes.
Adaptation of existing housing is an attractive option with many elderly people not wanting to move home. Homes can be improved through increasing energy efficiency, redesigning layouts for accessibility and adopting smart technology to help maintain independence and allow the elderly to live a fulfilling life in a community they feel a part of.
When building new homes it is important to consider their flexibility to ensure all life stages can be supported, this being a key aim of The Future Homes project within Newcastle. New homes should adopt greater choice, flexibility and be wheelchair accessible rather than the key focus being around minimum space standards. The HAPPI principles have and will continue to help support the design of age friendly homes.
Co-living and cohousing is also becoming a popular option. One example being a purpose build co-housing scheme in North London OWCH for women aged over 50. The women chose to live here because they didn’t want to live alone and wanted to feel part of a community whilst the scheme also had easy access to the local high street and tube station.
The Public Realm
The quality of the external environment also has a huge impact upon quality of life, with research suggesting that as people get older they often experience a shrinking world, particularly those suffering with dementia or mobility issues. It is therefore important that the public realm is design with elderly people in mind ensuring places offer mixed uses to enable independence, provide street furniture for resting and interaction and are legible and easy to navigate.
Figure 1. Heald Farm Court, St Helens, 2010 HAD HAPPI award – winner
Pollard Thomas Edwards (2017) New Ground Housing. Accessed at: https://pollardthomasedwards.co.uk/projects/new-ground-cohousing/
Housing Lin (2019) Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) Accessed at: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/Topics/browse/Design-building/HAPPI/
Newcastle City Futures (2019) Future Homes: Future Housing for an Ageing Society. accessed at: http://www.newcastlecityfutures.org/projects/future-homes/