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One of our new starters, Matt Usher, recently wrote an article in collaboration with ArchDaily on how to combat loneliness in ageing populations through design. We think it is important for our employees to explore parts of the industry they feel strongly about, and we hope to write more thought pieces on subjects in the future under the A519 name. Below is the introduction to the article and a link to the full publication can be found at the bottom.

“When the world undergoes major changes (be it social, economic, technological, or political), the world of architecture needs to adapt alongside. Changes in government policy, for example, can bring about new opportunities for design to thrive, such as the influx of high-quality social housing currently being designed throughout London. Technological advances are easier to notice, but societal changes have just as much impact upon the architecture industry and the buildings we design.

The same is true of changes in demographics, and we are in the midst of a monumental shift. In 2015, 8.5% of the population of the world was aged 65 or over (617 million people). This is predicted to grow to 12% of the population by 2030, and to a staggering 16.7% of the population by 2050. Historically, this percentage has steadily grown but dramatic advances in medicine are allowing people to live longer, creating aging populations across the globe. This problem is compounded in countries where the birth rate is also incredibly low, as is the case with Japan. We must reevaluate how the elderly are treated within society.

When thinking about the impact of these statistics, the natural assumption within the context of architecture is to think about medical care, hospital design, and accessible cities. However, this overlooks an emerging and serious problem: loneliness and social isolation. Within the UK, 51% of those aged over 75 live alone, and 11% of older people are in contact with friends and family less than once a month. Similar results are present across Europe. Chronic loneliness within the elderly population is incredibly prevalent and a significant number of studies have been conducted looking at the measurable health impact it has, such as creating a higher risk of disabilities, heart disease, strokes, and dementia. Architects can help tackle loneliness at the source and dramatically help increase the quality of life for a portion of the population who are often isolated. This article explores how good design can help further this cause, how architects have combated this previously, and what the industry leaders are doing now.”

The full article can be read at here on ArchDaily.


Photograph of Pilgrim Gardens, designed by PRP. Copyright Tim Crocker. Source PRP.

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