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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 040 - Putting older people at the heart of sustainable neighbourhoods

040 - The HAPPI Report

Recent publications by the Office for National Statistics and The Lancet suggests that the number of over-60’s in the UK is projected to increase by 7 million in the next 25 years, and half of all babies born today are likely to live to be 100.

The HAPPI Report, published by the Homes and Communities Agency on behalf of CLG and Department of Health, responds to the challenges of meeting the needs of our increasingly ageing UK population. It makes a series of recommendations to reform future government housing policy. The report places good design at appropriate density firmly at the heart of our national response, to ensure the changes in demographics become a managed opportunity rather than a housing crisis.

The recommendations of the report were supported by the Chairman of HAPPI, Lord Best OBE, who said “Offering accommodation that has real appeal for the older age group actually helps the next generation. Homes designed with the older occupier in mind - attractive, light, spacious, accessible, manageable, inexpensive to heat and cool, alongside good neighbours - means freeing-up badly needed family homes.”

In developing its recommendations, the HAPPI Panel visited national and international examples of best practice to see firsthand what can be achieved. One of the most inspirational projects was De Rokade, in Groningen, The Netherlands. The 21 storey iconic apartment building aimed at “younger seniors” provides 74 apartments in a cruciform plan form. Each home has an L-shaped plan with up to 115m2 of flexible space, offering plenty of natural light, crossventilation and outdoor space.

The building is the result of an international competition launched by the city of Groningen as part of its drive to increase density close to the city centre rather than allow suburban sprawl. It forms part of the Maartenshof continuing care facility; a new neighbourhood hub which provides for a range of care needs together with shops, restaurant, library, IT suite and crèche. This excellent example demonstrates that meeting the needs of older people can also help to rejuvenate a place by challenging the preconception that older people are best housed in low density traditional ‘bungalow’ typologies.

Other Information

  • Written for and by DCLG, HCA, DfH with the support of Pollard Thomas Edwards architects (PTEa), Levitt Bernstein Associates (LBA) and Design for Homes
  • Go to this link or contact the HCA Corporate Strategy team for further information


UDC2 Section - Integrated Design 

De Rokade, in Groningen, The Netherlands challenges the perception of how older people like to live.Images (image bank)