'Intergenerational Living: From concept to reality across a 12 month roadmap' presented by Nigel Saunders at the Housing LIN Summit 2020

10 December 2020

Nigel Saunders, director, shares his thoughts on intergenerational living and developing an urban model for all ages at the Housing LIN Summit 2020.

"The concept of intergenerational living is one that has been close to my heart for some time now.

My amazing grandmother turned 100 last year and still has the same formidable mental agility she has always had, even if her physical strength isn’t quite the same. I strongly believe that what has helped her keep her positive state of mind is her regular social interaction with family and friends through living in an apartment within a mixed-age setting.

We’ve seen this year what a contribution to society centenarians can have on our wider society with the incredible fundraising of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who lives with his daughter and her family. Even in the context of a global pandemic, people like Captain Tom and my grandmother have a role to play in society and can benefit from being an integral part of it.

Intergenerational living is a reaction to the segregation that has happened in our towns and cities over recent decades, which has seen younger people moving into the hearts of these urban spaces with older people pushed out to the fringes. This is in spite of older people generally choosing to stay economically and socially active for longer than they used to.

By providing all-age housing in urban settings, we can correct the demographic imbalance we currently find there, a shift that would benefit all of us. At Pozzoni, we strongly believe that the most successful communities are those that challenge society’s relationship with ageing – combining different age groups wherever possible to encourage productive shared experiences.

The Concept

We have been working for some time on our concept for intergenerational living, with a variety of urban housing typologies arranged around a central community hub that provides access to a range of shared facilities.

It offers co-living environments, extra care housing and a care home alongside a school, commercial space, co-working offices, fitness and wellbeing facilities and plenty of open and accessible space. How these spaces overlap is key, with a hub offering shared facilities like a library, theatre/hall and flexible spaces to enable community activities and intergenerational relationships.

Our model development has been designed to integrate with the wider community, through children receiving education there, while on-site carers are able to provide domiciliary care across a wider territory than if they were based at a traditional out-of-town location.

This concept is being explored and discussed by a working group of experienced partners who are helping us develop a clearer, more informed picture of the ecosystem that might be created in an integrated age-friendly urban community.

Bringing the Concept to Life

While we continue to refine what intergenerational living can be, we’re already working on projects that bring its values to life. We are working with Belong at Peel L&P’s Wirral Waters, a major mixed-use regeneration scheme in Birkenhead, offering education, residential properties, offices and a business hub alongside a care village model.

Offering a community hub with bistro, hair salon, exercise studio and function rooms, the care village is being built in a prominent location in a bustling urban setting.

The same will be the case for the intergenerational community we have designed at Westhorpe Gardens in London, a phased regeneration of a housing estate which includes an extra-care facility opposite a school within the community.

We are also working on an intergenerational community in North Manchester, with 500 homes providing flexible accommodation for a range of residents, including young people, families, older people and those with care needs, which will again be a well-connected asset for the whole local area.

Via the Housing and Planning Ageing Hub team, we are working closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), who will be reflecting these ideas in their guidance for how to incorporate age-friendly initiatives into the region’s towns and cities.

And we have recently been successful in securing Stage 1 funding from Innovate UK to establish a Design & Tech agency to support the creation of environments for healthy ageing. Along with partners, and led by GMCA, we have identified a wide range of pilot projects to trial the agency, combining the research from two universities, with design expertise and digital technology applications.

All of these opportunities to bring intergenerational living from concept to reality are hugely exciting for me. My grandmother and my wider family have all benefitted from healthy interactions between the generations and the reality is that older people are a hugely valuable part of any successful society.

We need to reflect that in our urban placemaking. We don’t yet know what long -term impact Covid-19 will have on our towns and cities, but we shouldn’t overlook the opportunity to take a fresh look at them and think about how we can build back better."

You can view Nigel's intergenerational presentation in full by clicking here.