A Design For Life: Urban practices for an age-friendly city, is a guide for architects, planners, developers and policy-makers about their role in addressing the changing needs and aspirations of an ageing society. Through essays and case studies, this pocketbook highlights the opportunities that arise when urban professionals proactively challenge common stereotypes about the ageing process and work together to develop practices, policies and designs that value older people as diverse, intersectional citizens.

The guide, launching in September 2021 as a free e-book, was developed by Mark Hammond (Manchester School of Architecture) and Nigel Saunders (Pozzoni Architecture) with contributions from a wide range of academics and practitioners working in Greater Manchester. It is a product of the ideas and debates that have emerged from the Ageing Hub Housing, Planning and Ageing group since 2017.

Alongside the guide, Manchester School of Architecture are working with the GMCA and a range of national and regional partners to develop the Design for Life Agency, a design-research consultancy supporting the development of age-friendly housing and neighbourhood programmes across Greater Manchester and the UK.

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Gorton Mill House is a development for Southway Housing Trust, designed by Pozzoni Architecture, which provides 106 accessible and adaptable apartments with communal facilities located centrally to the residents. The range of facilities and flexible spaces have been provided so the area can meet the needs of residents at any given time.

A raft of increased environmental and energy saving measures, such as ground source heating and electric car charging points, will make the building around a third more energy efficient. The ‘fabric first’ approach to reducing energy demand with residual energy supplied by on-site renewables aims to deliver lower energy bills for residents. A key driver for the appearance of these extra care homes is to feel as ‘normal’ as possible for residents whilst providing both the care options they may need and cutting-edge net-zero technology.

3. Making an impact on the ground

The primary challenge of our vision is to translate the compelling evidence base into the increased supply of age-friendly homes. We want to provide practical advice and information to housing providers and developers, investors in existing homes, local authorities, social and private landlords as well as people in mid and later life that can be used on the ground to develop new homes and adapt existing homes that are suitable for later life. This will include actions to:

  • Deliver an engagement strategy to promote age-friendly housing in Greater Manchester, outlining our priorities and showcasing best practice to communicate, “what we mean” and “what we want”.
  • Create and communicate practical guides and recommendations from research findings such as, Growing Older in Collyhurst: How can social infrastructure be used to support an Age-Friendly Victoria North, Design for Life and the RightPlace research project.
  • Develop practical resources and advice on how best to maximise improvements to ‘Age in Place’ when homes are being retrofitted or improved, building on the good practice already being delivered.
  • Work with Housing Providers on approaches for improving the current offer in existing sheltered housing to improve quality and space standards alongside scheme amenities and facilities..
  • Create ways to promote exemplar and inspirational developments across Greater Manchester that showcase positive homes for later life. For example, a design trail could be both a physical and virtual route, telling the story of each development and demonstrate “what we mean when we talk about good housing in later life”.

  • Ensure that programmes and tools used to deliver the retrofit of Greater Manchester’s homes to meet our crucial carbon reduction objectives also maximise any opportunities to address the wider risks posed by poor quality or inappropriate homes.
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