Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cities / Healthy Cities

Healthy City Design 2019

The potential for intergenerational living

By Roland Karthaus 25 Nov 2019 0

Over the past year, the presenters have been researching a model for intergenerational housing, identifying and challenging the obstacles to turn it into a mainstream housing option. This talk outlines their work.

Download the slides for this video presentation


Isolation is extremely harmful to health and is increasingly being understood as a modern disease and significant factor in a wide range of life-limiting conditions.

Housing options are increasingly segregated by age and where people do live with other generations, it’s often due to a lack of choice rather than as a positive option. Intergenerational living is not a new idea, but the authors’ hypothesis is that it has potential to support people who are not related to one another to benefit from such an arrangement, while maintaining independence.

Drawing on research from around the world, categories of ad-hoc and circumstantial models for intergenerational living have been analysed. Each case study responds to a specific problem, so they cannot be readily scaled as a mainstream option; they do, however, offer insights and suggest a strategic response to broader social issues. Working with partnering organisations, including policymakers and housing providers, the research has followed three distinct components, which are hypothesised to be necessary changes to the established mainstream housing model:

  • social impact methodology with objectives and value benefits;
  • form of social contract supporting social exchange; and
  • architecture that provides conditions to balance community and independence.

Each component has been developed with research partners and used to develop a prototype for a new form of housing. The findings of the study have shown that the sharing of these family-style care services are where significant societal and economic benefits lie. It’s argued that this is largely due to a lack of dialogue between housebuilders, operations and management, and eventual end- users. By reviewing the process in which housing developments are procured, opportunities to integrate approaches that support community cohesion have been established and tested.

Making our cities more healthy, successful and sustainable requires participation from policymakers, governance, investment, planning and design. The research acts as a tool to provide evidence to developers, local authorities, agencies and service providers of the benefits of a healthier approach to designing a thriving, sustainable future for citizens of all ages.

Organisations involved