ULI Later Living Conference Q&A with Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture

On the 16th October, the ULI will host its Later Living conference at the Macfarlanes offices in the City of London. With around 20% of the population set to be 65 or over by 2025, the UK’s housing market needs to prepare for the impact of such a demographic shift. As it stands, only 2% of the UK’s housing stock is specifically designated for older citizens, with only 1% of over 60s living in it. When compared to America, where 17% of the population live in retirement housing, the UK has a long way to go.

The ULI conference will tackle the issues facing the sector head-on, bringing together the brightest and the best from across the industry to discuss how we can invest, build and manage the UK Later Living sector.

Ahead of the conference, Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture, expands on what the role of the architect is within this emerging sector. Assael Architecture have extensive experience in the UK residential sector, designing landmark Build to Rent schemes for the likes of L&G, Essential Living and Grainger.

To see Félicie, and many others, at the ULI Later Living conference, get your tickets here.

What are some of the principal design considerations for Later Living compared to regular residential?

Basic principles rely on accessibility, safety and security, adaptability and sociability. The key design principles conducive to quality homes are natural light, aspect and generous internal spaces for people that may potentially spend more time indoors. External spaces are also extremely important to consider when developing a Later Living facility.

How important is design in ensuring the success of the Later Living sector in the UK?

There are several challenges to be overcome to unlock the success of the Later Living sector in the UK. Design is an opportunity to change the image of the Later Living offer, which is currently undefined, unattractive and undesirable. Design is also essential for ensuring a better quality of life, health and well-being. Issues such as over-heating in elderly care can be harmful.

To what extent can the UK draw on the successes of Later Living initiatives in other countries?

In some countries such as the US, New Zealand or Australia around 5% of the over 65 live in purpose design retirement communities. In the UK, the figure drops to around 0.5%.

Should there be more of a focus on blending types of housing that enable intergenerational living opportunities?

Intergenerational opportunities have proven health and well-being benefits for all generations involved. There is also an aspect of breaking down misconceptions which is becoming increasingly important.

From an operational point of view, there is a natural tongue and groove approach which is that flexible spaces or services can be used by different age groups at different times, creating a more efficient use of facilities.

How can design support modifiable homes that can be adaptable to a person’s changing life needs? What does this entail from a design perspective?

Designs that are simple but practical are to be encouraged from the start. Adaptability is an important factor in enabling the home to be transformed when necessary, allowing residents to stay in a home which can change with their needs. The provision of care in the home, that can be used depending on needs, is certainly a key factor to enabling a good quality of life for older persons.

What do you see as the role for architects in considering the needs of older people?

Architects can have a variety of roles from simply guiding groups on custom-built projects, to fine-tuning specific design components on much larger Later Living schemes.

What is Assael Architecture’s focus in the Later Living sector? 

From our work in the Build to Rent sector, we can see the value in creating an aspirational retirement living product developed and operated at scale, for rent and aimed at the mid-market in urban locations and backed by institutional investment.

The ULI UK Later Living conference will look at how the built environment is responding to increasing life expectancy, and its implications. Through panel discussions, presentations and case studies, the conference will showcase global best practice. We will discuss the changing needs of an aging population and the influence it may have on urban realm from the traditional retirement living sector but also considerations for communities, workplace, infrastructure, policy and investment.

The conference offers an opportunity to hear insights from industry experts on the demographic and economic changes and to discuss innovative solutions.

Register for the Later Living conference here

Author: Freddie Daley, Blackstock PR

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