Are extra care retirement villages the answer to health and well being in old age?

Retirement can fuel fears of loneliness and isolation, yet many of us put off the decision about where to spend our golden years until it’s too late, and family or close friends are left to make tough choices.

The recent Village Life report is a review of how well designed, carefully executed extra care retirement villages – with support facilities to self-care and live independently – can boost health and wellbeing in older age. I particularly welcome its recommendations that we should encourage people to make decisions to move into such villages in ‘early old age’, rather than leaving it until minds and bodies are too frail to make such a move.  I also welcome the increasing significance that good design of retirement villages is critical to health and well being and the choices people make.

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When will Extra Care housing be ready for BIM?

It’s a question we have been asking for some time as, by 2016 all central government projects will need to use BIM or Building Information Modelling. Yet so far, the social housing and extra care sector has made slow progress in harnessing the technology.

Social housing schemes have great potential for reaping the maximum rewards of BIM, where additional standards and future maintenance & management requirements require careful consideration from the early stages of development. Now, according to Inside Housing, The Homes and Communities Agency has commissioned a test using BIM on an estate in Nottingham to more thoroughly evaluate its potential.

As more and more of our projects are being developed utilising Building Information Modelling (BIM) methods we are finding that, as the type of project varies, so do the potential returns. For example, some projects will require the enhanced visualisation potential, others the close co-ordination or maybe the detailed analysis capabilities. That said, many projects can exploit the full range of benefits offered across the whole spectrum.


Cut through of multi storey residential Revit project
Cut through of multi storey residential revit project


Here, place : architecture’s Philip Stephenson gives a summary of how BIM can make a real difference to social housing development:

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What Inspired The Design of The IBCC Memorial Spire?

Last weeks unveiling of the memorial spire marks a significant milestone in the development of the International Bomber Command Centre.  Here, place : architecture‘s Managing Director, Stephen Palmer shares his experience of working on this unique project.


International Bomber Command Centre wing memorial concept sketch
International Bomber Command Centre wing memorial concept sketch


How did you become appointed to design the memorial?
We were invited to submit an entry for a competition in April 2013 to design a contemporary memorial and visitor centre. I was recommended to the Trust on the basis of our work in Lincolnshire and The East Midlands over the last 25 years.

What was your inspiration for the design?

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Is The Zero Carbon Home Destined For The Scrap Heap…..

……and is there a better strategy for reducing emissions? 


Construction sector leaders are understandably dismayed by the government’s decision to axe its zero carbon standard which was to be introduced in 2016 for new housing developments and after 2018 for all new buildings.

Talking to industry publication Building, Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “Let us be in no doubt this announcement is the death knell for zero carbon homes. It is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the house building industry which has invested heavily

in delivering energy efficient homes.”

The government’s change of heart was revealed in ‘Fixing the Foundations’ published as part of George Osborne’s economic productivity drive. Changes will see the 2016 zero carbon homes target dropped and industry figures are now speculating whether the 2019 target for non-domestic zero carbon buildings will also be culled.


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Will government subsidy cuts signal end of solar panels in social housing? 

The government’s plans to slash solar power energy subsidies have understandably sent shock waves through the social housing sector.

Ambitious schemes by social landlords to install solar panels as part of their drive to create more energy efficient homes could now be shelved following the announcement that from January subsidies could be cut by up to 90%.

Those of who are committed to creating sustainable homes could have foreseen the cuts – but probably not the scale of them. David Cameron has never hidden the fact that he sees renewable energy subsidies as a burden on taxpayers.

Announcing the cuts in July following a consultation, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We need to keep bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses while reducing our emissions in the most cost-effective way.”

The current price of solar is roughly £80/MWhr (megawatt hour) and although prices are dropping quickly, fossil fuels still sell to the grid cheaper at £50/MWhr. In its consultation, Department of Energy and Climate Change proposes cutting the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) rate – the amount paid to investors in renewable energy schemes – from 12.47p per kWh to 1.63p per kWh from January – a decrease of 87%. The government would also have the option to close the solar energy subsidy scheme to new entrants “as soon as legislatively possible”.

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