January 21st, House of Lords Westminster London, AAA & Tata Steel will reveal a revolutionary vision of the UK housing market, paving the way for a new breed of homes to populate our ‘Neighbourhoods of the Future’.
An Agile Ageing Alliance production, made possible by Tata Steel, the new white paper advocates a fundamental shift in the way housing is considered. Rather than a series of rungs which the consumer must climb, from starter home upwards, and then back down again in later life, buildings would be capable of adaptation – of morphing to support a growing family, and then adjusting to accommodate an ageing one. This vision of a home for life can only be achieved by looking at the needs of the occupant and how they change over time.
The white paper comes as the UK finds itself in a housing crisis. According to a year-long cross-party housing commission, launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, England needs 3m new social homes by 2040, more than were built in the two decades after the end of the Second World War.
Bimlendra Jha, Chief Executive Officer of Tata Steel UK recognizes the magnitude of the challenge ahead: “In construction, housing is the single most important problem we currently face. At Tata, we regard this not only as a business opportunity, but also as part of our duty to try and do something better in the communities we serve.”
To this end, over the past 12 months Tata and the AAA have been working together with a view to qualifying what better actually looks like. Compiled in collaboration with a veritable who’s who of visionary cross-sector stakeholders, the first bi-product of this partnership, "Neighbourhoods of the Future 2019", envisages the development of “smart” intergenerational neighbourhoods, comprising ‘cognitive homes’ which are affordable, sustainable, easier and more efficient to construct and be connected directly with the high-tech systems tailored to meet the diverse needs of an ageing population.
Challenging a new generation of entrepreneurs
According to Lord Best, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People: “With a large, ready-made market that the unimaginative house building industry is failing to address, there are massive opportunities for creating homes for everyone. Government, local and central, stands to gain from incentivising and supporting a major growth in this fledgling sector, not least in collaboration with housing associations. But the tipping point – when “rightsizing” becomes the norm for those in their 60s and 70s – will arrive when a new generation of entrepreneurs take up the challenge. A market that is worth over £6 billion a year beckons. And with it comes the great prize that both older and younger generations can live in homes that make their lives better.”
The white paper makes a powerful case for steel enabled Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). According to one of our expert contributors Matt Cooper, a specialist in MMC at the Arup Group:
Modern Methods of Construction
“With the acceleration of new digital technologies designed to make our lives easier and more connected, surely it is time for a rethink how we finance, build and maintain relevance in our housing stock.
What if we could replace our homes as quickly and easily as we replace our cars? Homes can and are being made in factories using the latest Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Innovations in modular construction technologies now make it possible to produce high quality, customisable, energy efficient housing that can be adapted to meet changing societal and personal needs, and that can be delivered and installed in days rather than months. Japan delivers more homes in produced factories each year than we build in the UK in total.
The model of developers building on greenfield land is not sustainable in the long term. The advances in technologies, and the need for society to be less wasteful and polluting, present a need, or indeed an obligation, to reinvent and rejuvenate our neighbourhoods of the future.
Building in adaptability
With clever modular designs, a house can be installed in days and can be replaced, adapted or reconfigured equally efficiently. This means that our homes and neighbourhoods can be adapted to meet individual or family needs as they change throughout our lives. This could be either due to physical changes, or the changes in technology that will inevitably impact on all of us.
We are already seeing giants like Amazon investing in technology-enabled, prefabricated modular housing, and financial institutions, like Legal and General, establishing their own MMC production capabilities. Companies like Tata Steel are developing housing systems that could provide quality, adaptable modular designs. These allow us to upgrade our homes in much the same way that we upgrade our cars and technology.
A new social economy
The creative pioneers of the new generation of MMC not only have the opportunity to alleviate our housing shortage, but to change the way housing is delivered across the social spectrum. A house is just a house, but homes are part of communities. Throughout our lives, the way we use our home changes. With adaptable and agile regeneration capabilities built in by design, MMC could be the game changer. Within the next 10-20 years, it may not only halt the downward spiral in our housing market, but act as the catalyst for a new social economy.”
To read Matt’s article in full register here and we will send you a copy of the white paper following the aforementioned House of Lords launch event.
Featuring prescient articles from over 50 expert thought leaders, Neighbourhoods of the Future 2019 explores exciting concepts for homes built employing a platform approach, not unlike that used in the automotive sector.
With over 80% of existing housing stock not fit to meet the needs of an ageing population, the future of retrofitting and remodelling is covered in depth. As is multigenerational housing which is a vast improvement on traditional "retirement villages" or elderly ghettos. You can also read about “Living buildings” at the forefront of bio-technologies. "Active buildings" integrating solar generation and storage technologies. Individual domestic “living cells,” designed to help alleviate the overburdened global healthcare system and new forms of social companion robots, able to communicate their intentions and feelings without necessarily using voice.
Outside of the home there are ideas for tramless tramways to encourage exercise and social engagement. ‘Lite’ autonomous vehicles benefiting segments of the population currently underserved: the disabled, the old, and the underage. The care sector, and residential care in particular, is predicted to transform from services that support particular individuals with needs, into becoming the centre of local communities, with a much broader group of professionals and volunteers involved in improving and protecting the public's health and care.
In addition to focusing on Construction, Health, Care, Design and Technology, for 2019 Neighbourhoods of the Future has added a new section Finance.
Covering a wide range of topics including disruptive financial models, one of our contributors Nigel Wilson CEO of the UK’s largest investor Legal & General references “Tomorrow's World” a staple BBC programme and compulsive viewing for almost forty years.
"Today, science and technology is the most exciting it has been in my lifetime. From AI, to genomics, to nuclear fusion, we are experiencing exponential change. As the articles in this publication illustrate, the neighbourhoods, towns and cities of tomorrow will be radically different from those of today, partly because of technological and scientific advances, but equally because of complex changes in how we live our lives.
Alongside longer lives, we need better social care for older adults and more savings for later life. Todays and tomorrows older adults received a huge windfall in housing equity, and they will have to use it. This requires innovative approaches which change both the demand and supply sides across the financial services and care industries.
The money exists to meet these challenges, but we have policy gaps and need a series of “nudges” to make it happen. For example, a housing policy framework disproportionately focused on home ownership and capital gains for consumers and providers alike needs to morph into a balanced, multi-tenure approach, where long-term rentals also provide steady long-term yields to pay pensions.
The neighbourhood and the society of tomorrow has to work more fairly across all generations. Baby boomers like me had it good, with free education, free housing (price appreciation outweighing mortgage interest), and relatively plentiful, steady employment often with good pensions. It is time for us, as dedicated viewers of Tomorrow's World, to deliver the real thing.”
A blueprint for our future
The first Neighbourhoods of the Future white paper in 2017 set out a manifesto for change and described some of the products, services and notably a housing design which could bring about the required paradigm shift in our attitudes and approach to ageing. The Tata Steel AAA team see Neighbourhoods of the Future 2019 as the first stage of roadmap or blueprint for realizing the built expression of that change.
Tata Steel UK CEO Bimlendra Jha says: “Key to this idea is the necessity of demonstrating, at scale, how such a community will work. Our ambition, as a collective, is to build a prototype Neighbourhood of the Future, the first of many, to prove the concept.”
Clearly this is an ambitious long term proposition which needs backing from government, together with like-minded public, private and third sector stakeholders.
Re-imagining our Neighbourhoods of the Future
According to Mike Catt, Director of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing: “The outcomes of the proposed activities will catalyse innovation, not only in new builds but in existing stock and communities. The aspiration is grounded in practical, pragmatic approaches that can be consistent with best evidence and practice, but which are unlikely to be fully realised if left to the dynamics of the existing environment for home and neighbourhood creation. It provides an opportunity for government, both national and local, to show vision and commitment to facilitate and enable.”
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the organisation behind the ISCF Ageing Society Grand Challenge, is convinced that reimagining our neighbourhoods of the future as a large scale demonstrator could have a transformational social and economic impact on the UK construction and healthy ageing sectors.
As a next stage UKRI is encouraging AAA and Tata to consolidate a wider consortium of invested stakeholders, with a view to working together: “To establish how we can further develop some of the great ideas behind the proposal.”
If you and/or your organisation are would like to be considered for inclusion, please register your interest here.
Register here to reserve a complimentary copy of Neighbourhoods of the Future 2019, courtesy of Tata Steel. Featuring articles from over 50 thought leaders including the likes of Sue Adams OBE CEO of Care & Repair England; Professor Michael Catt, Director, National Innovation Centre for Ageing; Sam Mauger Chief Executive, University of the 3rd Age; Lord Best, Chair All Party Parliamentary Committee on Housing and Care for Older People; Marta Fernandez, Director, RMIT Europe; Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive, Legal & General; Shirley CramerOBE, CEO, The Royal Society of Public Health; Jeremy Myerson Helen Hamlyn Chair of Design, Royal College of Art; Sarah Haywood, Chief Executive, MedCity; Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England; Professor Wendy Tindale OBE, CEO, NHS England Test Bed, Devices for Dignity; Mark Preston, Grosvenor Group Chief Executive; Karen Holden, Founder, A City Law Firm; Sebastian Conran, CEO, Consequential Robotics; Paul Priestman, Chairman, PriestmanGoode; Catherine McClen Founder and CEO, BuddyHub; Simon Bayliss CEO, HTA; Sara McKee, Founder, Evermore Wellbeing; Jim Ripley CEO, Phoenix Community Housing; Professor George Crooks, CEO, Digital Health and Care Institute.