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The ageing population today has increased dramatically all throughout the years. There are nearly 12 million citizens that are aged 65 in the UK (, 2019). As part of our research on our Housing Alternative module, there is a need for better provisions of housing that raises aspirations and offering wide variety of options that can cater the general needs of elderly people. As the ageing population grows, it becomes an added key players for housing market. They comprises “one-third of all homes and population ageing will account for around 60% of household growth”  ( Housing our ageing population, 2017). This will add as a challenge to all designers such as architects and urban designers to design a space that are capable to accommodate the needs of the elderly. 

HAPPI (Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation) and its principles

(, 2014)

HAPPI’s agenda focuses primarily on improving the quality of life of the ageing population by providing “high quality, sustainable homes and neighbourhood”. It also tackles and challenges the perception particularly the mainstream and specialised care for older people. In addition, It raises the aspiration for high quality homes and spreads awareness to innovate ways to design spaces and neighbourhoods. (Buterchi, 2009)

In addition of their agenda, HAPPI recommended 10 design strategies to be incorporated for housing ageing population (Housing Lin, 2014)

(Author’s work, 2020)


  • Space and flexibility
  • Daylight in the home and in shared spaces
  • Balconies and outdoor space
  • Adaptability and ‘care ready’ design
  • Positive use of circulation space
  • Shared facilities and ‘hubs’
  • Plants, trees, and the natural environment
  • Energy efficiency and sustainable design
  • Storage for belongings and bicycles
  • External shared surfaces and ‘home zones’

Application of HAPPI on UK housing: Pilgrim Gardens in Leicester

This housing scheme was awarded three times: HAPPI Completed Award 2014, Housing Project of the Year 2014 and HAPPI Project Award 2012 (PRP, undated )

(PRP, undated)

It is a retirement living apartment complex in Evington Leicester, it has 31 apartments (with 30 bed care home). It is tenure mixed, with 15 rooms for sale and the rest are affordable rent and shared housing. The site is predominantly landscaped with outdoor seating area with roofed patios. It has communal lounge with activities such as bible study and leisures that are organised by the tenants. The site has its own designated large storage room where it can accommodate their mobility scooter and other belongings. Lastly, it is overlooking next to Evington Park that boast with greeneries and flowerbeds. (Pilgrims’ Friends Society, undated)

This housing scheme followed the 10 recommendations of HAPPI. This gave the residents an opportunity to enjoy the facilities it offers and enhancing their own quality of life. This precedent will set a high benchmark for designing great spaces for the elderly. In addition, designers may take inspirations to this precedent and use HAPPI recommendation as a tool to guide great many designers. 


Age,uk., 2019. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2020].

Buterchi, J., 2009. The Design Perspective: HAPPI Principles In Later Life. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2020].

Enck, P., 2017. The Gut Microbiota Of Exceedingly Healthy Elderly People Is Similar To That Of Healthy 30-Year-Olds. [online] Gut Microbiota for Health. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020]. (Cover photo)

Housing our ageing population., 2017. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2020]. 2014. HAPPI – Design – Topics – Resources – Housing LIN. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2020]. 2014. For Future Living: Innovative Approaches To Joining Up Housing And Health | IPPR Reader. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

Pilgrims’ Friend Society. undated. Pilgrim Gardens, Evington, Leicestershire. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2020]. undated. PRP / Pilgrim Gardens. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2020].

2 responses to “HAPPI recommendation and the ageing population”

  1. Hello Van! Thank you for sharing this post! I think design for the elderly requires very intricate detail and care, and though HAPPI sets important principles and ideas for design. I think a lot of the support needed comes heavily from what come after the project’s completion, such as caring after the residents and addressing individual feedback. As the main focus should be ensuring the residents maintain a heathy mentality, as loneliness and depression are far too common with the elderly. [1]

    We can all agree that HAPPI’s design supports better quality of life for the elderly, the design example used in Pilgrim Gardens is a good example of how design can encourage better social connections in a retirement village. This in itself will improve mental health, as this will directly take on the issues around loneliness and depression.[2] The fear over using set design principles, is that design for vulnerable people becomes a formula and the engagement and inputs with the residents may get put on the backburner as a result.

    An interesting precedent for this is an interesting group called, Older Women’s Co-Housing (OWCH). What’s unique about this project is that it designed and managed by the residents themselves, they realised that they all have unique needs and disabilities. So, they designed an entire neighbourhood around this, and since it’s the residents spearheading the project, it doesn’t fall under any formula for design, just purely what the residents need. [3]


    [1] Age UK (2020) Loneliness (Online). Available from: Accessed: 22/05/2020

    [2] Local Gov UK (2016) Cobating loneliness: A guide for local authorities (online) Available from: Accessed: 22/05/2020

    [3] OWCH (2018) Welcome to Older Women’s Cohousing (Online) Available From: Accessed 23/05/2020

  2. Thanks for an insightful blog regarding the ageing population and HAPPI recommendations Van! I too have personally studied deeply into these topics within the Housing Alternatives module and the illustrations you have made are very useful to understand deeper into the 10 design strategies/principles.

    With regards to the HAPPI recommendations, I feel that these principles may be fit into all types of housing, albeit that it may cost more during construction but who would not want to live in a place which has been designed to these standards? Wildernesse Mews Estate designed by Morris+Company has been designed to these standards as well as being a lifetime home (Brick Bulletin, 2019). Joe Morris has said that the estate is built for everyone, irrespective of age creating the estate for the youth and elderly population with the HAPPI principles (Housinglin, 2014). Each unit is designed with a proportionally designed stairwell with room for a domestic lift to be installed with spacious open plan living and high ceilings (Crook, 2019) this fits just as well for the young resident or the elderly resident.

    Overall, I think more housing can be designed regarding these principles as it also includes highly efficient construction, high quality materials with beneficial features for residents which will be advantageous for all groups and communities (Brown, 2016).

    Brick Bulletin. (2019). Wildernesse Estate mews, Kent. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

    Brown, C. (2016) HAPPI days [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

    Crook, L. (2019). Morris + Company completes Wildernesse Mews retirement homes in historic Kent estate. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

    Housinglin. (2014). HAPPI – Design – Topics – Resources – Housing LIN. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

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