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February 5, 2018 \ Studio
by Christine Turnbull

An inter-generational housing approach could be one of a number of solutions implemented to overcome social exclusion of the elderly.

Social

Christine put her finger on the pandemic of emerging loneliness and isolation amongst our older members of society as a result of social exclusion caused by the built environment.

She identified that the process of growing older brings with it age related decline, often resulting in reduced mobility. Which puts an elderly person’s social relationships at risk as they are less able to take part in day-to-day life. Her speculation is that as the domestic situation set to become the primary platform for social exchange. And that with older people reported to spend around 70% of their time at home alone, the ‘age segregated’ nature of British housing model for the elderly is further exacerbating the issue of social exclusion.

Christine illustrated the British housing model through two architecturally articulate projects. Both projects focussed on providing a common external landscape, in the form of a courtyard, with no obvious efforts given to provide neutral shared spaces for informal and cross-generational exchange elsewhere. The question Christine challenged was – is that it? – we get old and spend our time looking out to the garden.

Current housing strategy can be described as technical, with the need for adaptability of accommodation to meet changing physical requirements of residents taking president over social success. Christine advocated that the solution may not lie in tinkering the with the existing closed courtyard model.

Looking elsewhere towards the Dutch intergenerational ‘Apartments for Life’ concept as an alternative, EGM’s Humanitas Housing was selected as an exemplar project. The individual dwellings are conceived so that there are no boundaries. Openings are wider than required by building standards enabling the use of wheelchairs and in some cases stretchers – akin to the UK examples. However, unlike in the UK, the Dutch model places emphasis on the well-being of its residents, stressing that the dwellings should be inclusive of all ages, in turn supporting an extended family dynamic as well as allowing the occupants to ‘age in place’. The building is organised around series of neutral spaces. Every level has a lounge, kitchen, recreational space and laundry room. The single-loaded corridors that wrap around an atrium are scattered with chairs and tables in addition to the tenant’s mail boxes. Providing the opportunity for people with physical limitations, to benefit from informal exchange or ‘over the fence’ liaisons with their neighbours. Key to the success of Humanitas is the formation of a shared public space devised as a ‘village square’. Giving even its most physically debilitated residence the opportunity to interact with the wider community, shared experience rather than the exile of just a garden.

Diagonal

January 29, 2018 \ Studio
by Karen Nugent

Unlike the horizontal line, constantly in repose; or the vertical line, ever soaring upwards, the diagonal line has a dynamism that is constantly unstable and undecided.

1868Social
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