Home Farm: How high-density living could solve Australia’s retirement problem

July 23, 2016


As it turns out, Singapore may have the solution to housing Australia’s rapidly ageing population. But whether Australians go for it is another question entirely.

Speaking at an architecture forum Design Speaks: Housing Futures on Friday, architect Stephen Pimbley​ said Australia should follow in the footsteps of the land-poor island nation and embrace high-density apartment complexes.

The Singapore-based director of Spark Architects recently unveiled his vision for a “Home Farm” – a high-rise retirement village in the centre of the city.

Director of Spark Architects Stephen Pembley has designed an innovative retirement home with its own farm for Singapore’s inner city. Photo: Spark Architects

“Home Farm is about changing the perception of aged-care living and not making it folksy and remote from the rest of the community,” Mr Pimbley says.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s in Asia or in the UK, you’re usually faced with this horrible institutionalisation​ for the older people and they’re segregated away from the community they used to live in.”

Home Farm is about providing certain things to people in their retirement to make them feel a lot more secure and make them alert and try to combat things like Alzheimer’s.Stephen Pembley, Director of Spark Architects.

He says he first got the idea for the project when he saw a magazine ad stating adult diapers were out selling babies’ diapers in some Asian countries.

Artist’s impression of the project, titled the “Home Farm”. Photo: Supplied

Over the past 20 years Singapore has rapidly urbanised, pushing retirees without an income to live in unsuitable developments on the city’s fringes, and forcing the country to import 90 per cent of its food.

The unique aspect of Home Farm is its self-sustaining fruit and vegetable farm, most of which is grown vertically on the exterior of the buildings.

Several plots will also built on rooftops and courtyard spaces and a produce market will operate, providing an optional income for residents.

The project will have vertical and rooftop fruit and vegetable plots. Photo: Spark Architects

A range of apartment types will be available, from studio apartments to “three-generational apartments” designed for families with children.

Mr Stephens says it’s important the complex is connected to the rest of the inner-city community and it should have children move in and its important that families can move in with their older relatives.

“Home Farm is about providing certain things to people in their retirement to make them feel a lot more secure and make them alert and try to combat things like Alzheimer’s,” he said.

The project has been delayed in the wake of Brexit, as it was relying on European funding, but he is hopeful it will get the green light soon.

So could it work here? 

Director of the Australian School of Architecture and Design, Professor Bruce Judd, points out that many elderly Australians are still reluctant to embrace high-rise living.

Professor Judd’s research shows that only 20 per cent of older Australians who downsized​ moved into multi-unit apartment blocks and most were still opting for houses in suburban areas.

The housing demand from retirees, however, is set to surge.

Since 1995, the proportion of Australia’s population aged 65 years or older has jumped from 11.9 per cent to 15 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Although many older Australians would ideally live in a smaller house with single-level on the ground, this kind of stock is rare. 

“Apartments are certainly an option for some people and that can be very practical but most people older people live in stand-alone homes where they can still access the shops and get a sense of community, but one that’s different to strata living,” Professor Judd said.

“People on lower incomes have much fewer choices with retirement housing so we need more affordable options,” he added.


Read more at http://www.domain.com.au/news/home-farm-how-highdensity-living-could-solve-australias-retirement-problem-20160722-gqbto2/

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