What is Longevity Housing?

Building Design Northern, an award-winning architecture and engineering practice, has collaborated with Northumbria University to establish a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

The partnership focuses on driving innovation to enhance the quality of homes and care environments for older individuals, seeking to achieve sustainable, accessible, and inclusive mainstream longevity housing.

But what is longevity housing? Our KTP Associate, Dr. Faye Sedgewick, explains the term below and why, as designers, it is becoming increasingly important:

What is Longevity Housing?

Longevity housing is a holistic approach that integrates health, wellbeing, and care to promote healthy ageing. Its main objective is to design accessible and inclusive environments that offer futureproofed and adaptable homes suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

Longevity homes are age-friendly in nature, meaning that they are carefully designed to create supportive environments for older adults, allowing them to actively age-in-place within connected communities.

To achieve these objectives, longevity housing adheres to M4(2) – Category 2 building regulations (at a minimum). These regulations ensure suitable and flexible internal layouts, incorporating key design considerations such as appropriate spatial allocations in lobbies, direct access to wet rooms from entrances and bedrooms, and the use of reinforced walls and ceiling components to enhance durability and adaptability.

Moreover, longevity housing serves as an enabler by promoting accessibility within the physical environment. It advocates the age-friendly narrative and maintains a continuous process of review and refinement to ensure the most suitable housing environments for all residents.

Ultimately, the central aim of longevity housing is to provide individuals with the means to age gracefully and comfortably in their homes, regardless of their specific needs.

Why is Longevity Housing important?

Housing significantly impacts the health and wellbeing of older adults, influencing their functional ability, independence, and social connectedness. By designing housing with healthy ageing at its core, we can address the changing needs and aspirations across the life course.

Research has highlighted that living in a supportive environment, such as longevity homes, increases the likelihood of good health by 27%.

Currently, only 9% of homes meet basic accessibility standards. With 1 in 4 people projected to be aged over 65 by 2050, the demand for supportive, accessible, and adaptable living environments becomes critical.

Transitioning from M4(1) Category 1 to M4(2) Category 2 for new homes and implementing additional accessibility regulations is not only beneficial but also cost-effective. Housebuilders estimate that adherence to these regulations would cost around £310 million a year, while the NHS already spends £2.5 billion annually on treating illnesses linked directly to inadequate living conditions.

What does BDN’s Longevity Housing and Care Approach include?

BDN’s approach encompasses innovative design solutions to enhance accessibility, functionality, and futureproofing of living environments. We prioritise the practical functionality of buildings, adhering to the “form follows function” principle, ensuring our designs effectively serve the needs of a diverse ageing society while incorporating aesthetic qualities that complement their functionality.

Throughout our design process, we adopt a ‘what if’ mentality from the outset, focusing on aspects such as transitions, appropriate flexibility, familiarity, and connection to the outside. These considerations create living environments that support independent, thriving, and meaningful lives as individuals age.

Collaboration is central to our longevity housing and care approach. This includes working as a collective across architecture, gerontology, health, and social care disciplines which emphasises a holistic understanding of the key problems and challenges related to ageing. We value insights from individuals with lived experiences, making their needs central in our approach. This leads to a continuously evolving longevity housing and care approach through ongoing research, engagement sessions, and collaborations with experts in the field.

But what is the goal?

The goal is to innovatively create futureproofed homes in connected communities that embody the essence of inclusivity, ensuring that every individual, regardless of age or ability, can lead a life marked by dignity, independence, and purpose.

BDN’s longevity housing and care approach supports a shift in thinking to design solutions which embrace resilient living for longevity. The goal is to promote a societal move away from the culture of single-user and demolition-first mentality and instead prioritising long-term thinking in building design.

By adopting this perspective, we can ensure homes that not only promote inclusivity and sustainability but also enhance the overall quality of life for our rapidly ageing population.

BDN’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership is working hard to implement our longevity housing approach into live developments, supporting clients to improve future housing schemes.

Contact us today at hello@bdnltd.com / 0191 535 6189 to find out more about how BDN and our KTP can support your longevity housing developments.

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