European housing conference to announce prize-winning accessible designers in Helsinki

Habinteg and Circle Housing Group are championing the European Federation for Living’s (EFL) new competition to explore what accessible housing will look like in the future.

EFL is set to announce the winners of their first accessible housing design competition at its Spring conference in Helsinki on 12 May.

Architecture students from across Europe have submitted innovative and creative designs for a new generation of accessible homes that could help older and disabled people live more independently. The whole conference will be framed around the topic – ‘The future of accessible housing in the ageing European societies’ – and the winning designers will receive €5000.

The issue of inclusive housing design is of significant importance across Europe. By 2060 over half of people living in the European Union will be of retirement age. The design competition was instigated by the EFL to generate new ideas for housing that can help meet the demands of demographic change. Student architects drawn from six countries presented a clear vision about how thoughtful architecture can support older people, preventing loneliness, improving health outcomes and ensuring safety in the home, as well as the accessible design aspects of the building and landscape you would expect.

Joost Nieuwenhuijzen, Director at EFL, said:

“Building new homes that meet the demands of an ageing population will be vital for all European countries and this competition has produced some exciting ideas about how we do this in future.

“I’m delighted that the competition has inspired these excellent architecture students to think so creatively about accessible housing in their designs. The future is bright if we can ensure such designs are implemented in practice and we will definitely be continuing with this concept. We’re already thinking about the next competition were we hope to find great ideas to make the existing stock far more accessible.”

Jacqui Rennie, Access Advisor for Centre for Accessible Environments at Habinteg and Design Competition juror said:

“The high calibre of the designs was great to see and made it a difficult decision to choose the winners. As we look towards long-term solutions in meeting the challenges of our ageing populations, accessible housing and communities must play an increasing role. The competition proves the skills are there, now decision makers need to choose inclusion and accessibility for all.”

Paul Gamble, Chief Executive of Habinteg said:

“We’re really proud to be an active member of the EFL Accessible Housing Topic Group. The response to this competition and the focus of the whole conference on accessible housing is a strong reflection of the benefits of working together and sharing our expertise, knowledge and experience on this important issue. I’m hopeful that this work will inform housing practice across Europe as we face the increasing urgency of the challenges posed by an ageing society.”

A report showcasing the best of the accessible housing designs will be published at the conference on May 12.

EFL is a group of European organisations which operate in the field of residential development, financing and control. It works in cooperation with research institutes, public bodies and the business community to encourage sustainable residential living areas in Europe through the exchange of knowledge and experiences.

The competition is funded by ARA, The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland. ARA, has major responsibility for the implementation of Finnish housing policy and belongs to the administrative branch of the Ministry of the Environment. ARA grants subsidies, grants and guarantees for housing and construction and controls and supervises the use of the ARA housing stock. In addition, ARA participates in projects related to the development of housing and expertise in the housing market, and produces information services for the industry.