Support for independence: Cross-generational Housing for Elderly & Millennial Students
Statistics New Zealand estimates that by 2031, one in four Canterbury residents will be aged 65+ (Canterbury City Council). Accelerated ‘baby boomer’ population growth has shifted Christchurch’s current age distribution into a period of demographic transition. The implications of this shift means a likely increase in demand for “future proof” housing as dependency ratios accelerate beyond historic records (Davey 1). The term “future proof” factors in the rise in demand for accessible housing and potential for social isolation once an individual is widowed or physically impaired. Housing suitability is equally problematic for today’s millennial cohort. Rising rental prices and limited choice have also become a problem for Christchurch’s student population. Within this group, students at Christchurch’s main polytechnic (ARA) are of greatest concern due to a severe shortage of student accommodation. The institute currently offers 192 beds, a 267 per cent increase than what was available a year ago but an overflow of demand remains (Lee A1). This research proposes the establishment of an aged care facility, which incorporates student accommodation. Following a design-led research approach, this body of work has been developed by first identifying the problems faced by the client cohorts and then actively exploring possible solutions through design. These solutions are supplemented by a process of participatory observation. This involved moving in with my Nan for a period of 6 months. I actively recorded our experiences including the challenges and benefits found within this form of living. Designing an alternative that recognises the needs and wants of the baby boomer generation, could delay the need for social welfare intervention, while providing an option for students facing the harsh reality of New Zealand’s housing market.