One Size Does Not Fit All

“This project constitutes an opportunity for stakeholders to break the tyranny of uniformity to design and build homes and multigenerational neighbourhoods where adaptation and addressing changing needs are core principles.”

Paul Quinn, Director of Regeneration for Clarion Housing Group, is on a mission to break down age segregation in housing, an industry which still operates with typologies based on age and life-stage, e.g. older people, young professionals and families. Consequently, the sector tends to produce ‘one size fits all single use structures’ that are not easily adaptable.

As Paul eloquently put it, “Unfortunately, human needs do not fit into neat, fixed parameters. People require homes in multigenerational neighbourhoods, which can adapt to their changing needs – family size, mobility, health, age, and lifestyle. People should be able to live longer in their own homes, in environments designed to encourage social interaction and mobility, potentially until end of life.”

Paul believes, that population ageing and changing working patterns, with more people working from home, will eventually challenge a model which is no longer fit for purpose. He says, we will see more generations living together longer and we will need communities designed for purpose, which will serve that purpose for decades to come. Paul provided an enlightened example of how this can be achieved through his role as a commissioner of buildings and neighbourhoods with Clarion, Europe’s largest social housing group. Clarion now includes a clause within all design procurements to ensure that architects are focused on intergenerational housing, encompassing the following principles:

  1. autonomy and independence;
  2. health and well-being;
  3. security and resilience, and
  4. social connectedness.

Paul stressed the importance of these principles being addressed throughout the entire development process, and hopes they will be of value in helping to develop an ISO standard. He concluded with a compelling call to action:

“There have been multiple examples of one-off homes designed for the needs of an ageing population or people suffering from dementia and their carers. There are few examples of those homes being built at scale or those technologies being retrofitted within existing homes, which will house the great majority of families and individuals for many decades to come. There are even fewer examples of whole neighbourhoods being designed with such principles at their heart. This project is an opportunity to co-create multiple examples of both – interconnected living test beds of good practice and design, that will help to define the essence of best practice - at an unprecedented scale.“

View Paul’s presentation and watch the video here. You can read reviews of each of the AAA ISO Ageing Societies Leaders Forum, starting here

Image courtsey Clarion Housing.