How can we design our towns to create more caring places for older people which enables them to live independently and well for longer? Working with Architecture & Design Scotland and Open Change we reviewed existing research, identified some great case study examples and sought to answer this question through a public sector client interactive workshop.
We made use of the excellent Scottish Towns Partnership online resource which provides information on every town in Scotland to identify two typical example towns, one with a population of less than 3,000 people and one with a population between 3,000 and 10,000. The nature of these towns was captured through the range of facilities, the quality of connections and its relationship to adjacent towns.
The work was also informed by a series of older person personas that outlined their physical condition, capability to continue working, enthusiasm to do volunteering, and level of support from friends and family. Creating a story which reflects the practicalities and realities for a variety of older people. The lives of these older people were considered in the context of the two typical towns and the physical and service solutions which would create better places for these people.
The World Health Organisation has published excellent guidance on the eight characteristics of an Age Friendly City from transportation to civic participation and this identifies opportunities for excellent design to assist with creating town centre caring places. There are a range of design solutions which can assist such as high quality accessible civic spaces, leisure opportunities and housing near to facilities, many of these we managed to achieve in the design of public realm at Castle Square, Stranraer.
The workshop tested a format and a toolkit which will be developed to assist public sector organisations to assess existing towns and see how design and service delivery can create more caring and supportive towns. There are great opportunities for this to be applied through the Scottish Government Place Standard and we look forward to the next opportunity to apply this to one of our master planning projects. https://www.ads.org.uk/event-a-caring-place-public-sector-client-forum/