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Senior housing development designed to battle loneliness, inactivity

Architects with Witherford Watson Mann unveiled plans for a community residence in South London, where elderly people share space with neighbors at the center of an urban district.

January 27, 2016 |
Witherford Watson Mann designs innovative South London elderly community

Renderings courtesy Witherford Watson Mann

While more people are living longer, not everybody is living longer. One of the biggest problems that the aging population faces is loneliness

For septuagenarians and older, spouses, friends, and family members die, and the elderly are faced with the lack of support from peers. No one is there to help do household chores, no one is there to check on well-being. No one is there to even just have a conversation.

Witherford Watson Mann Architects has one solution, though. The firm designed a community residence located on a busy street in South London, where elderly people share space with neighbors at the center of an urban district.

HuffPost UK reports that permission has just been granted for a building in the Bermondsey district that will be home to 90 people over 70 years old. It will be completed in 2018. 

The building is a modern take on an almshouse, a centuries-old British residence for the poor and old. But unlike the almshouses that were tucked away and set at a distance from the streets, the new facility will be front-and-center, with large glass panels that let visitors and passersby see its interior.

The five-story, 6,152-sm building will have courtyards, walkways, and lounges, and instead of kitchens, the residence will have a cookery school. The 200 sm of communal features are meant to foster interaction.

"There’s a lot of discussion around this issue of loneliness, particularly in cities, ironically,” Stephen Witherford, a Director of Witherford Watson Mann, told HuffPost UK. “You’ve got very dispersed families, some people are abroad, so the family structure we knew has obviously transformed geographically.

"A lot of older people don’t want to be seen as a burden. They lose a partner and they get very lonely, and their well-being deteriorates significantly through that, health and appearance."


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