With limited existing examples for appropriate housing solutions, the ADAPT team, supported by Ignite and Boffa Miskell Landscape Architects, set out to create an integral concept and supporting guidelines document.
To view the Neighbourhood Living design guidelines, please click here.
Assisting Different Abilities Peoples Trust
The Assisting Different Abilities Peoples Trust (ADAPT) was founded in 2018 to support organisations that provide care for people with intellectual disabilities and those who suffered traumatic brain damage. The emphasis of ADAPT is to ensure that these individuals have a welcoming and secure home to call their own.
At inception ADAPT purchased two homes in Thames, New Zealand. These properties were already being used by ten individuals, who were at considerable risk of losing their home, as they became available for sale on the open market with lease agreements ending. Together with the assisted living service provider, ADAPT were able to improve these homes using universal design principles.
During the renovation process, and whilst searching for other potential homes, ADAPT realised that the options available weren’t meeting user-needs, and the retrofitting required for some of the homes was often not a commercially viable solution. Along with being costly to implement, ADAPT found that the unsuitability of the homes often triggered the need for more operational resources to ensure residents were happy.
This awareness laid the foundation for ADAPT’s mission, to enable the design of purpose-built homes suitable for people of all abilities.
The 'Supported Neighbourhood Concept'
This mission culminated in The Supported Neighbourhood Concept. The concept, and subsequent design guidelines were created by ADAPT, with specialist insights from Ignite, The Supported Lifestyle Hauraki Trust, and Boffa Miskell Landscape Architects. The research phase of the concept involved deep consultation with a number of support providers, and most critically, those receiving support – the ultimate end-users. It became evident that there was demand for a flexible model that accommodates diverse needs – and offers a neighbourhood environment with considered flow between individuals’ private spaces, their neighbours, and the broader community.
The concept outlines the importance of general design and construction considerations, such as site selection and planning, regulatory compliance, incorporating passive design, and how cultural and local narratives can be interwoven.
Space to be alone, but never lonely
The neighbourhood living concept outlined how space could be created to foster independence, but also a connection with the community, ensuring residents had a ‘space to be alone, but never lonely.’
As the concept evolved, it was decided it should be documented into guidelines, with the aim to assist developers, service providers and families in what is often an overwhelming process of providing or finding a purpose-built home for people with different abilities.
The project team faced – and ultimately welcomed - the challenge of conveying something that hadn’t been established to date. Referencing Universal Design principles, uncovering global research and holding numerous workshops enabled the team to refine and document the concept.
Five key principles were outlined by the team, with a particular focus on enriching social elements, flexibility of use, and equity for all.
1. A place to call home
Personal, private space to find respite.
2. A place to find your people
Communal spaces that offer social opportunities, whilst feeling secure.
3. A place to connect out or invite In
The creation of a neighbourhood that thrives within the broader community context.
4. Supporting the support
Allowing service providers to focus on care, rather than operational distractions.
5. Sustainable and maintainable
Design for commercial viability, adaptability, and resilience.
Along with these distinctions, the concept outlines the importance of general design and construction considerations, such as site selection and planning, regulatory compliance, incorporating passive design, and how cultural and local narratives can be interwoven.
Putting Theory into Practice.
Ultimately, the creation of the concept and guidelines has enabled ADAPT to ensure they are striving to provide the best living environments for residents in their communities, along with assisting others in attaining the same goal. ADAPT are now in the position to help define their pilot neighbourhood project in Paeroa, Waikato.
Tony Emett, CEO of ADAPT says, “The neighbourhood design concept has already been an incredible journey – and really, it’s only just started. In the early stages of forming ADAPT, we found there was a lot of resource supporting building compliance for those with different abilities – but the social considerations were lacking. As the concept evolved, we saw the need to broaden the principles to accommodate a range of different disabilities - we’ve discovered the concept can be applied further to aged care, dementia facilities and even affordable housing.
“We’re very pleased with the presentation of the design guidelines document and seeing how widely it’s been used; we hope to put theory into practice in Paeroa soon.”
Ignite Principal, Michael Bilsborough, says Ignite have enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in a project that is redefining the boundaries of supported co-living. “We’ve really enjoyed helping to curate an assisted living concept that celebrates community and social connections, whilst offering independence and stability for residents. With advancements in research and ongoing feedback from communities, the concept will always be in a state of evolution – we look forward to seeing it prosper.”