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PTE Conference Day: Third Age housing - October 2022


PTE’s October conference day programme had a Third Age theme with a day-long focus on ‘last home’ design…

The day began with breakfast in the Foundation Bar, followed by a welcome talk delivered in the adjoining Foundation Room. Partner Patrick Devlin mapped the shifting perceptions towards Third Age housing, from the twentieth century approach of ‘where do we put them?’ to the emerging emphasis on agency and community. Important questions were raised – where do we want to live when we’re older? And can your last home be your best home?

Partner Sarah Eastham then explored our 2009 HAPPI report, and how these design principles can benefit people of all ages, particularly in high-density areas with ageing demographics such as London. Projects codesigned for intentional communities, such as New Ground and Woodside Square, were highlighted. The talk concluded with associate Stephen Morris’s overview of our Third Age business plan, setting out our sector goals and aspirations.

We believe older people belong at the centre of life, not at the edge”

Residents at Hammerson House

This month’s reviews – a south coast care home with Stephen and Patrick and Abbey Chase Nursing Home, with Sarah again and architect Louisa Newman – were packed. For the latter, which focused on remodelling its circular layout, corridors and institutional interiors, navigation and a sense of ‘invitation’ were the main design challenges facing the team. Isabel questioned the impact of Covid-19 on the plan’s design with Domi asking how care home design will adapt to match generational taste. Rebecca explored the idea of collating exemplar care home interiors, including ours and examples from around the world. Sarah showed a new layout, revealing improved wayfinding and views out over the adjacent River Abbey, while the interiors will be reinvigorated with colour and domestic décor.

Sarah Eastham, partner - engagement, Pollard Thomas Edwards and Louisa Newman, architect, Pollard Thomas Edwards

This conference day marked the launch of three films produced with Jim Stephenson and Edward Bishop, Colby Lodge, Sandringham, and Hammerson House.

Lunch, which had a suitably spooky Halloween theme, was prepared by design workshop 4. According to colleague Nick Browne:

After much collective chopping, simmering and hot potato juggling, we prepared a Halloween feast of smoky chilli beans with jacket potatoes and coleslaw followed by Mexican day of the dead hand decorated biscuits. Feliz día de los Muertos!”

Dominique and the design workshop 4 brigade 

After lunch, the work-life balance workshop with James Milford explored methods for responding to feeling overwhelmed and dealing with your ‘inner critic.’ Attendees were asked to list their typical routines, and to consider whether these daily habits were nourishing or depleting. James then led the attendees through a short ‘breathing and labelling’ exercise, which emphasized validating our stressors and responding to them with compassion and self-soothing.

James Milford, behavioural sciences and mindfulness teacher

There were three surgeries this month. The sustainability surgery, led by partner Simon Whitley, explored the opportunities and constraints of light, partial and deep retrofit. Meanwhile, Alexander Dixon held a drop-in IT surgery and Laura Binaburo and Javi Martín hosted a BIM surgery.

Friday at Four

The Friday at Four session featured guest panellists, each speaking for four minutes on a range of interlinked topics. Maria Brenton, project manager & cohousing consultant at Older Women’s Co-Housing explained why ‘last homes’ like New Ground ‘should be the norm’. Christopher Smith, programme manager of health and social care transformation at Thurrock Council discussed the health and financial benefits of HAPPI homes while the director of Park Grove Design, Lori Pinkerton-Rolet, addressed the potential of ‘creative and characterful’ Third Age design. James Greenshields, co-founder and ambassador of Tonic Housing homed in on an increasingly pertinent topic – what inclusive third age LGBTQ+ development looks like in the 2020s with partner Sarah Eastham wrapping up with thoughts on making existing Third Age homes fit for now and the future, before the discussion opened up with a Q&A session.

Friday at Four takeaways

We have a right to be aspirational – there is a need for Third Age developments that affirm and celebrate LGBTQ+ identity”
James Greenshields, co-founder and ambassador, Tonic Housing and founder and chair, Inside Job Productions
Use your best endeavours to persuade local authorities that Third Age housing has high social value”
Maria Brenton, Older Women’s Cohousing (OWCH)
Councils need to prevent and reduce the issues caused by poor housing, not just treat the symptoms”
Christopher Smith, programme manager - health and social care transformation, Thurrock Council
Person-centred Third Age design doesn’t have to be expensive”
Lori Pinkerton-Rolet, director, Park Grove Design
We should always look back and ask, how can we do better?”
Sarah Eastham, partner - engagement, Pollard Thomas Edwards
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