The challenge of providing housing for our ageing population is often talked about in our sector and we’re all too aware of the competing factors at play when trying to meet this need. When it comes to a deprived area in the middle of much-needed but not yet completed regeneration, the need for an innovative approach is all the more important.
Together with Newcastle City Council, we were aware of the growing need for older people’s housing in Walker but we were keen to deliver this in a way that both improved the offer for older residents and contributed to the wider regeneration of the area.
And so Tree Top Village was born.
Exclusively for people over the age of 55, Tree Top Village consists of an impressive main building offering 75 sheltered housing apartments bordered by 44 one and two bedroom homes with gardens.
One of the main inspirations for the development was Hans Becker, a Dutch architect who revolutionised older people’s living in Europe by designing housing that connects older people with the world around them and has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. One of the central principals of Becker’s philosophy is that instead of segregating older people from the wider community we should create buildings that welcome the community in. And that’s exactly what we’ve tried to do at Tree Top Village.
At the heart of the development is a glass atrium with a lobby, restaurant, shops, museum and hair and beauty salon open to the public, providing much needed facilities, and of course employment opportunities, for people living in Tree Top Village and the surrounding areas.
We kept the principles of Becker’s “Apartments for Life” model and philosophy on human happiness at the centre of our plans which led to a building design far removed from the traditional style of sheltered housing.
Each property in Tree Top Village has its own outdoor space, whether that is a balcony, courtyard or garden, so residents can benefit from the positive impact outdoor space has on health and wellbeing.
Features inside the properties include high specification kitchens and bathrooms, spacious bedrooms and light and airy lounges, many with striking views of Newcastle’s iconic skyline. Each of the properties can also easily be adapted to respond to a range of needs and has a level access shower, a transfer area and access to an on-site scooter store.
The layout was designed to make it easy for residents to interact with other people if they want to, whether that’s seeing what’s going on as they walk through the atrium to get to their apartment, having a chat with a neighbour in one of the communal areas or enjoying a meal in the restaurant alongside families from the wider community. We hope that at Tree Top Village anybody who wants some company will always be able to find it.
Outside the development, the regeneration of the area continues apace, with a new primary school, much needed supermarket, redevelopment of the local park and new build projects by private developers improving the landscape of the surrounding area.
Incorporating Becker’s principles into this development required our creative heads and the need for partnership working more than ever; looking around at what is now a lively and welcoming environment I am certain it was worth the effort and I hope we see more housing of this type in the years ahead.
David Langhorne is Your Homes Newcastle’s Assets and Development Director. For more information or to discuss this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org