New London Architecture

Rightsizer

Monday 16 November 2020

Rory O'Hagan

Director
Assael Architecture

Rightsizer is an intergenerational housing model for the post-pandemic high street developed by Assael. It responds to two growing crises in London - the decline of the traditional high street but also the opportunities presented by the Covid crisis to reimagine large redundant retail sites, and how to accommodate an ageing population whilst reducing loneliness and isolation. Our town centres will increasingly become much less reliant on bricks-and-mortar shops and, with collective vision and action, can be transformed into resilient community hubs underpinned by a diversity of uses, jobs and people.
 
The vision is for the residents within Rightsizer communities to be principally older people downsizing from under-occupied family homes in the local area, making an aspirational decision to move, not one borne of a personal health crisis or bereavement. In turn, this can help free up homes for families, second-steppers and first-time buyers. Rightsizer developments will also create homes for key workers, such as carers, and provide subsidised accommodation for younger people willing to provide companionship for older lonely residents.
Rightsizer communities will promote active living and positive engagement with their broader neighbourhood, and residents will be empowered to run aspects of their building and curate an events programme that invites in people of different ages and backgrounds from the locality. We intend to reinvigorate shopfronts as intergenerational community hubs, into what we call ‘High Street Living Rooms.’
 
Residents’ independence will be underpinned by a care continuum to give people choice over the levels of care required as their health and needs change over time. Our carers will be hired from the local area and trained in an on-site care academy; we want our communities to be great places to work and to live.
 
Rightsizer sites can be found on most major high streets across London, and are typically redundant department stores, supermarkets or secondary shopping centres. The communities can be developed and operated by private and public sector organisations and offer multiple tenure options. Pricing, fit-out spec and amenities will no doubt differ between Marylebone High Street and Lewisham High Street, but with the common thread of openness and integration with its locality and the wider community.
Our apartments will be oversized, with flexible internal layouts allowing multiple living configurations, and apartment front doors will be personalised and feel like a door to a home. 
 
Residents will have the opportunity to share personal possessions and memorabilia in a ‘reminiscence museum’, whilst other on-site amenities can be modest, based on need and complementary uses to nearby High Street amenities. 
 
Horticulture will be facilitated and celebrated in shared external gardens and green spaces, and access and movement around the building will be organised on the principle of a publicly-accessible storefront, becoming increasing private deeper into the plan.
 
We are currently developing plans with developers and operators for several ‘Rightsizer’ communities across London, and we’re collaborating with Meridian Water to create a sustainable construction system employing circular design principles that are optimised for intergenerational housing. 
 
As with our residents, we want to extend the lifespan of our buildings, well beyond the status quo; this is partly to do with good bones, but it’s also about creating a building system that enables flexibility to accommodate changing physical and care needs.
 
Rightsizer can become an essential component of our new community-focused high streets, celebrating local place, character and people. As we slowly emerge from the Covid pandemic, this model aims to make a tangible social impact by addressing the simultaneous challenges in care, our local high streets and housing for older people.


Rory O'Hagan

Director
Assael Architecture


Housing

#NLAHousing


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