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A future for intergenerational living

Matter Architecture will be explaining its new concepts for inter-generational living at our March forum. Matter Architecture is a RIBA Chartered Practice located in Bethnal Green, London and its research uses inspiration from a quote by Winston Churchill in 1943 'We shape buildings, therefore they shape us', claiming that 75 years later, as a society our understanding of how buildings affect behaviour, health and wellbeing is still poorly understood.

Lucy Block, who will be speaking at our forum, has worked across the practice's projects on inter-generational living - something that the firm believes is key to the creation of a fair and healthy city and that innovative design can provide spaces which foster shared experiences amongst all ages. 'Currently' the practice states 'mixed-use schemes don't result in mixed economies or social exchanges, because the market, regulation, tax and planning policies tend to enforce separation. The current crises in elderly care, affordable housing and childcare are related to one another and are crying out for a holistic solution.'

Matter Architecture is now exploring more radical models that mix diverse functions socially and economically: 'The social and economic benefits of such intergenerational relationships and their connection with the social glue of green spaces are well established. What's needed are supportive policies and opportunities to develop a pilot and demonstrate its value'.

The firm has been working on the redevelopment of an existing, low-rise almshouse estate in west London for Pathways Housing Trust. Through engagement with the exisiting residents the scheme seeks to dramatically improve their living conditions and provide additional housing fo rthe client's other elderly, vulnerable residents. The design is conceived as a framework for the health and well-being of the Pathways community, the buildings literally acting as a trellis for planting, cultivated as a social activity. The scheme is at Developed Design stage and has an estimated construction value of £21.5 million.

Lucy joined Matter Architecture in 2016, having worked for McDowell+Benedetti from 2011. Her earlier experience includes working on a number of historic buildings with Designscape Architects and BBA Architects, both based in Bath. She studied architecture at the University of Bath and the University of Sheffield. Her Masters' thesis dissertation examined the ritual and architectural setting of the Japanese tea ceremony, which received a commendation from the University of Sheffield and was further nominated for the Presidents Medal Dissertation Prize in 2011. This study went on to form the basis for a contribution to Architecture and Movement; The Dynamic Experience of Building and Landscapes, a collection of studies published in 2015.

Lucy has taught at both City, University of London and the University of East London (UEL). She has been a registered Architect since 2015 and is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

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