Welcome to the Ageing Future – Joe Haire

Today’s post features a thesis by Joe Haire while in his final year at the Manchester School of Architecture.  The proposal tackles the issue of senior housing; specifically using architecture as a means for providing the elderly with the benefits of independent living while ensuring an optimal quality of living.  In addition to design considerations and investigations, the architect in this scenario becomes a coder, writing an automated program for the continued growth and evolution of the original scheme.

Student: Joe Haire

School: Manchester School of Architecture

Studio: Thesis

Year: 2011

A crisis of ageing looms, the baby boom generation is coming into retirement and we are living longer. This thesis explores solutions to our care deficiency, elderly mobility issues, community fragmentation and our attitudes towards the elderly.

The thesis aims to achieve a utopian solution to the later stages of life, retirement as a whole, not merely the final stage of life, which is so often compromised by illness. My research into the provision of elderly care and retirement villages in the UK convinced me that a template for a community of residents at all stages of retired life could be established. This template is applied over the 22,000 people over 65 in and around Huddersfield. This population is broken down by area into a polycentric network of communities. The thesis focuses on the largest of these centres; a care community for over 6000 people.

Designing for 6000 residents individually would be a monumental task and therefore a code was written, based on earlier research into cybernetics, that would actively distribute form, programme and services to the specification of the required demographic of the community and within the constraints of the site. The code is therefore an endlessly flexible modeling tool for complete retirement communities.

Organised radially, the community allows for maximum integration with the surrounding context at the outskirts for the most independent residents whilst providing the security, protection and efficient care facilities required by the more dependent residents at the centre. Run and managed by a governing committee made up of active residents, each community benefits from a wealth of skills,developed and honed over a lifetime of work.

Each level of the model is defined as a product of the one beneath it through cellular automation using excel, this allows the form and volume to be accurately controlled. The code, written in Maya, then evaluates each volume relative to its position in the model and to the conditions of its neighbours to determine its programme typology and service requirements before the appropriate design script can be implemented and its form takes shape. The code could now be applied to the other communities in the network by simply defining the site constraints and the number of prospective residents broken down by age. Each new community takes roughly 10 seconds to calculate and design.
All Images & Text via Joe Hair

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