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Apartments designed for lifetime housing

Adrian Morgan

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I am an assistant planner at Manchester City Council working on a dissertation for a Masters degree at Liverpool John Moores University.

The dissertation will look at how the design of new blocks of flats / apartment buildings could influence the range of household types choosing to live in this type of housing and how long they stay there. In many other countries flats seem to be used as ‘lifetime housing’ much more than in England with, for example, a greater percentage of families with children living in flats than in England. Is this because the buildings themselves are designed to be more suitable for long term occupation or because of cultural and aspirational differences between populations – or just because of lack of choice?.

I would be grateful for any information or comments on the following points :-
Do you know of any examples of Design Guidance prepared by planning authorities specifically relating to flats?

What aspects of the design of blocks of flats / apartment buildings most influence their suitability for families?,

Any examples of succesful developments or research into the housing aspirations of any household types in any country would be very useful,

Thanks,
adrianm@beeb.net
 

tgavieres

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would you care for an opinion??

having lived in apartments most, if not all, of my life, i would say the the attraction to stay in this type of environment is its affordability, its convenience, and (tho seemingly contradictory) its temporary nature.

for one thing, apartments come as large as three bedrooms here in the states, which is more than adequate for a single family. most bedrooms are large enough to fit two twin size beds, so even a two bedroom apartment can concievably house a family of four. change those twin beds to bunk beds and you've got a hockey team staying at your place! (ok, almost) considering property values, mortgages, insurance, job instability, blah blah blah... i think few people see the incentive to invest long term into your traditional single family home. (actually, i think few people see the need to invest in anything--which i consider a backlash of the 80's, but that could be just me...) also, families living in apartments more than likely come from a two income household. therefore, the nearness of conveniences, such as schools, transportation, fast food stores, friendly neighbors, other children in the complex, makes it easier to leave your children at home. i grew up in hawaii. we moved 9 times before i was in the fifth grade. at one apartment, the nighborhood became questionable, so we moved. at another apartment, the building was sold and the rent went up, so we moved. then, we moved into a place within walking distance to my school. and another was close to my grandmother (afternoon babysitter). convenience is key. however, the major factor to apartment living for families, and i could be projecting, is the idea that one day, they will have the house of their dreams. not now, but one day - when they win the lottery, inherit money, get a better job (maybe not even in the same city). the idea that there's something better out there makes you keep your options open.

my two cents.
 

fee

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I'm sure you've been there already, but check out the Joseph Rowntree site of standards on flats etc. Also worth looking at are Housing Association sites - they often produce their own guidelines for design standards such as Varying needs, Lifetime Homes. Problems with noise and out of control children make flats an extremely unpopular choice for families, as I've learnt to my experience on social housing schemes. Doesn't seem to work in this country despite success elsewhere.
 

David Danenfelzer

Cyburbian
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20
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Dear Adrian,

You might want to contact some of the faculty at The Center For Universal Design as NC State University. They have a web site with a list of the faculty and their interests. They are probably the premier research center on "life time" housing and might have someone on staff that knows about flats and other solutions to apartment living for families.

Sincerely,

David W. Danenfelzer
Housing Specialist
The Enterprise Foundation
Austin, TX
 
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