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Trends in Later Living Design

11 Jul 2014 / in Uncategorized

With the number of people over 60 within our country continuing to rise it is important for designers and developers to look fully at the needs of this section of the population.  A large proportion of our clients are retired and through our work with them we have found that a lot of the previous assumptions that were made by developers about the types of space that they need and want are completely wrong.  This article touches on the research we have completed into this and some of the themes and trends within this growing sector.

Our clients are passionate about good design and want to make sure their homes are reflective of their continuing active lifestyles.  They want to feel they have a home that is the envy of their friends and that they can show off to family and relatives.  Older people also want to feel current and up to date in their choices – in fact in our experience older clients are more adventurous than the younger clients and families we work with.  Perhaps that’s because this is their opportunity to have exactly what they want without considering a future purchaser or how the market might develop.  It’s also important to remember that a lot of these clients were exposed to contemporary design over 50 years ago and aren’t afraid to be bold in their choices.

So what are the older generation looking for in their homes right now?  We are designing several new houses at the moment for retired and older clients and the following is an overview of the types of brief we are being given and the trends we are seeing.

Top Trends

Double height spaces with views of the sky are in high demand.  Where as some developers might see this as a waste of space, our clients value the fact that this creates spaces that give us a better sense of well being and are uplifting to the spirit.

Open plan spaces with room for a large table, somewhere to sit for coffee and a lovely large contemporary kitchen with all the latest gadgets.

Cold rooms and larders are extremely popular now with lots of shelves – along the lines iconic larder in Nigela Lawson’s cookery programmes.  These rooms naturally need to be placed on the north side of the house where possible and some clients are adding temperature controls.

Lots and lots of storage space is essential and storage rooms, corridors and storage walls feature as a part of our designs.  We all accumulate so much stuff these days and the traditional loft space is becoming a thing of the past with open ceilings and mezzanines taking it’s place.  A house with plenty of storage is now preferable to a house with plenty of toilets!  Developers take note.

Timber frame and kit houses are being requested by clients a lot.  The likes of Baufritz and Hans Haus are premium products with a price to match, but the ease and speed with which they are constructed makes them a popular choice.

Sustainable design is crucial to older clients, they understand that they have the opportunity to make sure their homes will be cheaper to run and better for the environment; not just for them but for their families in the future.  This is not eco-bling or add on features, but ensuring that the fabric of the house is well insulated and sealed beyond building regulations requirements and that the materials used are sourced responsibly.  Again the fact that a lot of the technology is cutting edge is a real attraction – our clients want to be ahead of the game and enjoy being new adopters.

We have frequently heard it said that if you design a product that appeals to a younger person today it will also be attractive to an older person.  Age is now irrelevant what is important is good design.  What this doesn’t take account of is that the older generation actually want to be ahead of the game, they want to be the ones taking risks and trying out new technology first.   In my mind that makes designing for later living the most exciting sector to be working in right now.   It could offer the opportunity for design, research and development that will help us create homes and environments that are better for all sections of the community.

Designing for Later Living

11 Jul 2014 / in Uncategorized

This is the first in a series of blog posts looking at the theme of design for later living, or how we could be designing for an increasing ageing population.

Over the last 10 years, like many young architectural practices we found ourselves cutting out teeth within the private residential sector.  As we have moved on to larger and more commercial projects we have found that our knowledge of this sector has given a huge amount of valuable research that can be translated into larger projects.

We have had the opportunity to develop detailed briefs for over 400 private clients within the residential sector and over 70% of these have been older clients.  This has bee a fantastic resource for a larger retirement projects and proved fruitful when we became finalists in the McCarthy & Stone re-imagining ageing competition last year.  We have subsequently written articles for the architectural press and provided research for clients such as Pegasus Life and other later living developers.

We have spent time analysing themes and trends within this sector and are now getting the opportunity to translate these into projects on site including our work with J&M homes in Tavistock where we are helping them create a development of 14 later living apartments and houses.

The next 5 posts will look at the themes we have been looking at and the research we have gone on to complete.  Themes include how to encourage active ageing within design, trends within relocation, looking to other countries such as the Middle East who are ahead of the UK in their approach to design for this sector and if retirement villages are the right solution for housing our ageing population.

We are moving to a lovely new office

30 Jun 2014 / in Uncategorized

Number 18 Southernhay West. Exeter.

This is the new location chosen by Living Space Architects to base their office and from where to launch the next stage of development.

Living Space Architects was established in 2004 with the aim of creating vibrant contemporary architecture that is appropriate for its site, its history and its environment. Since then we have relocated into different offices depending on our client needs. Today, after four years of working hard in the same office and also starting work in a new sector, our team has been expanding so we have consequently had to move to a bigger office space.

The team at Living Space Architects hope you will have a chance to visit us soon.

18 Southernhay West, Exeter, EX1 1PJ. Telephone : 01392 270420

Tavistock in Devon – is this the perfect place to retire?

30 Jun 2014 / in Uncategorized

The dream of buying a property and living abroad is no longer an option for the average British person, according to experts.
The rising cost of living means that retirees looking for a new life abroad could be in for a nasty shock, with the dream of becoming an expat branded ‘a luxury’ by one specialist company.
European destinations are more expensive than ever before and some expat hotspots, such as Canada and New Zealand, are even pricier than living in the UK. For these reasons, British people must find good places in UK to enjoy this time, such as many places in south west Devon.

Living Space Architects thought that Tavistock would be a good location to start working on some later living projects a couple of years ago. For many reasons, after carrying out some later living projects there, Living Space Architects return to the challenge of converting and extending the former BT building in a Later Living Development. Those two last projects based in Tavistock were Paddons Court Retirement Apartments, which was designed and built around an attractive paved courtyard with nine and two bed apartments set in the heart of Tavistock and Retirement Housing Tavistock, which was created on this sloping site at centre and provided 14 new apartments, each with individual character.

This new project is a conversion and extension of the former BT building, exactly between Tavistock Canal and River Tavy, having Tavistock Tennis Club just 5 minutes walk away. Living Space Architects are working in this project to create some alterations to provide an alternative design more suited to Retirement Living.
Before carrying on explaining this project, we have researched location to understand if it remains a good location as a retirement destination. To introduce a little bit Tavistock, is an ancient scenery and market town within West Devon. It is situated on the River Tavy from which its name derives. As of the 2001 census it had a population of 11,018 inhabitants. It traces its recorded history back to at least AD 961 when Tavistock Abbey, whose ruins lie in the centre of the town, was founded.

The town is centred on the paved amenity of Bedford Square, around which are found St. Eustachius’ Church and the Abbey ruins, to the west, the Grade 2-listed Town Hall, the disused former Guildhall/magistrates’ court buildings, and Pannier Market buildings behind the Town Hall. Abbey Bridge crosses the River Tavy to the south, while West Street and Duke Street, on either side of the north end of the square, form the main shopping areas, with the indoor market running behind Duke Street.


One of the most important building in Tavistock is The church of Saint Eustachius was dedicated by Bishop Stapledon in 1318 though there are very few remains of that building today. It was rebuilt and enlarged into its current form between 1350 and 1450, at which time the Clothworkers’ Aisle (an outer south aisle) was included, an indication of the growing importance of the textile industry to the local economy—the trade was protected by a 1467 statute.
It possesses a lofty tower supported on four open arches, one of which was reputedly added to accommodate the nineteenth century “tinners” or tin miners. Within are monuments to the Glanville and Bourchier families, besides some fine stained glass, one window being the work of William Morris and another of Charles Eamer Kempe.

Market village and shopping centre

Tavistock is a small market town, providing shopping and entertainment for its residents, many small outlying villages and the local farming community. 
1778843It is a centre for the West Devon and Dartmoor tourist trade. It is a fast growing dormitory area for commuters working in Plymouth and has a sizeable and rapidly growing retired population, perhaps drawn by the rural tranquillity and scenery, giving Tavistock an average resident age of 44

The Market continues to operate in the large covered market building, the Pannier Market; the main market is on Fridays, on other days the market hosts specialised events, such as craft fairs and antiques fairs. A Farmers’ Market takes place in the Square fortnightly and has been voted Best Farmer’s Market in the South West.

In 2005 Tavistock was voted ‘Best Market Town’ in England and in 2006 ‘Best Food Town’, largely on the strength of the many independent food shops and suppliers in the town and nearby, such as a long-established family grocer and delicatessen in Brook St and the cheese shop behind the Pannier market. The town also became Devon’s second Fairtrade Town (in 2006).


The biggest event in the town’s calendar is the annual Tavistock Goose Fair (known locally as “Goosey Fair”) which has existed since 1116. It occurs on the second  Wednesday of October, and takes over much of the town for several days either side, drawing crowds which far out number the resident population.Traditionally, the Fair was an opportunity for locals to purchase their Christmas goose, allowing plenty of time to fatten the bird before Christmas came; nowadays, along with a multitude of gypsy street vendors selling a vast range of wares, there are all the rides and games associated with funfairs, such as fortune tellers.
There is an annual 2-day Garden Festival held on the Spring Bank Holiday weekend and a Carnival with a 2-day Balloon Fiesta each August bank holiday weekend.

Foreign relations
Tavistock has long been a town of much interest to tourists and attracts many visitors from around the globe, for example Japan, France and Italy. The local college has many links with foreign schools and is known for its teaching of languages

Well, once that we studied this town, we realised that it was a good location in general to live and better place particularly for retiring people.
This project is being a great challenge for Living Space Architects and quite interesting because Retirement Living is the main working segment for this small office but with a big contemporary ideas.

The project
The property is located within Tavistock Town Centre, approximately 750 metres west of the main retail area along West Street and Plymouth Road. It is opposite Meadowland Park, leading through to the town and adjacent to Tavistock Community Primary School. 2

The building is exactly between Tavistock Canal and River Tavy, getting Tavistock Tennis Club just 5 minutes away walking.

Living Space Architects are creating alterations to existing approved drawings to provide alternative design more suited to retirement living.Untitled

The design of units 1, 2, 8 and 9 are remaining the same, and thought in revisiting of design for units 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 which are currently 3 storey town houses to 4 apartments. This likely consist of 2 ground floor apartment with access to a small garden, 2 first floor apartments and a single penthouse apartment. Untitled5

To provide the common areas to enjoy their free time and give them the chance to park their own cars, it is developing the landscape design looking at an enclosed courtyard to the rear and revised parking layout. The intention for all design changes to come within the remit of material amendments to the existing permission so that a new planning application is not required. Untitle

Work on this project began in April of 2014, and it is expecting to commence the construction in July – August of 2014.
Before starting this project, Living Space Architects had already worked in Tavistock building a couple of different develops for this segment.

Living Space Architects started working in Tavistock a couple of years ago.
Paddons Court Retirements apartments: Screenshots_2014-04-07-15-59-22

“Paddons Court” was designed and built around an attractive paved courtyard with nine one and two bed apartments set in the heart of Tavistock. The development is accessed from a small narrow lane which has created the feeling of a contemporary mews development.
Their approach to sustainability has been to specify local materials where possible, including the local quarried stone facing and stone window sills, which set against a bright render finish provide a contemporary local feel to the building. Screenshots_2014-04-07-16-01-56-2

The architects persuaded the developer to incorporate a green sedum roof across the building which has created a sensitive finish to the roofs which can be viewed from above on the road behind the site. The finished roof has bedded in well and provides a god environment for natural ecology, improving bio diversity and controlling rainwater run-off rates the roofs. These Sustainable additions to the design helped to ease the project through the planning stages.

Retirement Housing in Tavistock: Untitled222

14 new apartments – each with individual character – have been created on this sloping site in Tavistock centre.
All the apartments are accessible to wheelchair and elderly users with large access corridors and lift access to all floors.Unt

The interior design is modern and of high quality with the external design more reflective of the adjacent listed buildings – a product of the negotiations with the planning authority.


South West Devon and particularly Tavistock is being set up as a retirement living town by Living Space Architects.

Find out more on:

Eduardo Gilabert





Should you retire to Spain or South Devon?

14 May 2014 / in Uncategorized



According to the insitute for public policy research, 252.000 British retirees lived abroad in 1981. By 1991 the figure had more than doubled, to 594.000, then hit a million in 2006. Now a foreign and common wealth office survey reveals that more than a third of Britons aged 55 plus want to live abroad. These people reveal that countries where good weather, sea views, peaceful and some entertainment are at their fingertips, all in he same place.

However, some of them say that they would have liked to find some of this beauty, in their origin country.For this reason, today we’ll discover Kingsbridge…May be the future retired people place?

Screenshots_2014-05-14-10-38-29kingsbridge-3Kingsbridge is a market town and popular tourist hub in the South Hams district of Devon, with a population of about 5,800. It is situated at the northern end of the Kingsbridge Estuary, which is a textbook example of a ria and extends to the sea six mils south of the town.
The town formed around a bridge, hence giving it the name of Kyngysbrygge (“King’s bridge”).
Kingsbridge has been the main market town in the area for centuries. Being situated within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and its proximity to the spectacular south Devon coast and sailing venues.


Eduardo Gilabert




Grand Designs Live 2013

03 Oct 2013 / in Uncategorized

We were thrilled to be asked to exhibit again at this year’s Grand Designs Live in Birmingham, Stuart is busy putting up the stand today and we will be there from Friday 4th until Sunday 6th.  Every year we get to meet lots of great people who are looking for an architect to help them design their new home.  We’ll be offering design advice, budget cost information and tips for helping you achieve planning consent.  Come and find us on stand B943 in the Grand Build Section.

What’s in a name – Living Space

10 Jul 2013 / in Uncategorized

Why Living Space Architects
The name relates to our own desire as architects to create spaces that are alive with energy and activity. It is after-all the activity and events that happen in spaces that make them special and our architecture is a backdrop to this, an enabler if you like. I think a lot of people think we chose the name Living Spacearchitects because we specialise in residential architecture, in fact we don’t specialise in this area at all although naturally as a young practice we do a lot of residential work.

As a student I was fascinated by writings by Architects like Tschumi – event cities etc. Tschumi said architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event, action, and what happens in space. I designed an ice factory in the back streets of west end London with an ice wall that crashed to the ground every day nada yearly ice festival. It was the idea of history, memory, and event making a place special through its architecture and buildings being a dynamic part of this not just bystanders. Obviously as a student you were expected to make a scale model of said ice factory along with real ice, which I then decided to hang from the ceiling. Questions like how much does a sq m of ice really weigh and what is the load bearing capacity of the studio ceiling had to be asked as well as what happens when it melts on the floor.

Living space follows on from this with its practice, creating spaces not just as a backdrop but as places where people can interact and where things happen, ideas are created, friendships are formed and strengthened and life lived to the full. This may be a dining room extension or a more complex design for a performing arts centre, but the essence of a dynamic, living form of space remains and enriches our design process to create forms that resonate with our clients and the building users.

Listed House Extension

06 Feb 2013 / in Uncategorized

As we prepare our exhibition stand for the Listed Property Show we can show here the first pictures of a recently completed Listed House refurbishment and modern extension to a thatched cottage.

Living Space Architects secured planning and listed building consent for this integrated light and modern extension. The form of the new building is a crescent shape which follows the afternoon sun and is positioned to enjoy far views from inside or sitting on the new terrace.

The interior of the new rooms are bright, modern and open plan, which provides a welcome relief from the low ceilings and darker interiors of the original house.

Electric Car for Living Space Architects

23 Jan 2013 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized

electric carAfter deciding we should be practicing what we preach we now have a new electric company car.

We decided to purchase a Nissan Leaf which has a range of around 100 miles, but this does depend on how many hills you drive up. Thankfully the regenerative breaking helps restore the range on the way back down!

Office to become new homes

27 Sep 2012 / 0 Comments / in Uncategorized
Empty offices above shops could soon be converted into flats if proposed changes from the government come into force next month.
Currently planning permission is required for material changes of use of land or a building even if no building work is required. Converting an office above a shop to a residential use would therefore usually require planning permission but from October 1st this could all change.

After an announcement made by the government Permitted development rights look likely to be extended to include the conversion of parts of certain offices and shops to two residential flats.  There will still be exceptions as local authorities can remove permitted development rights where they think they may cause a problem – for example in conservation areas.

Under the 1995 Order, local authorities can remove permitted development rights in geographic areas where they think these new rights might cause a problem. They can do so by making an Article 4 direction, the effect of which is to a require a planning application which in other locations would not be necessary. Article 4 directions are commonly found in conservation areas.

Announcing the proposed changes Mr Pickles said:

“These are common sense planning reforms that will deliver more affordable homes in areas where there are good transport links whilst ensuring better use of existing developed land. Cutting this red tape should be a shot in the arm for the high street increasing footfall and providing a boost to regeneration.”

We look forward to finding out if the new permitted development rights will be as revolutionary as Mr Pickles hopes when they are brought into force in October.