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Supported housing: designing for care

Is supported housing in the UK receiving the attention it should from designers? Rory Olcayto introduces a cross-section of projects in the sector

Our coverage of the supported-housing sector is timely. Earlier this year, Communities and Local Government (CLG) instructed the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to set up an ‘innovation panel’ to identify and promote the best of specialised-housing design for older people. The HCA is expected to announce who will sit on the panel this month.

The panel’s purpose is to think about reform required to ensure that new-build specialised housing meets the needs and aspirations of the older people of the future. The timescales involved are tight. The panel will have to set up, meet, visit examples of best practice around the country, report back and make policy recommendations by September.

In the meantime, we’ve drawn together some examples of what the supported-housing sector in the UK has to offer. Pictured above is Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger’s Woonzorgcomplex (2008), an 89-apartment scheme in Middleburg, the Netherlands. Why? During our roundtable discussion of supported housing, Hertzberger’s work in his own country’s equivalent sector was cited as a exemplar – one of the few things that the participants agreed on. Decide for yourself whether British architects, working to a budget of around £1,200 per square metre, are matching the quality that Hertzberger is renowned for.

The AJ is holding a conference on Community Healthcare Design at Cavendish Conference Centre, London W1, on Tuesday 29 September. Visit to book tickets.

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