Heading up our specialist living sector, Will’s vision is for every project to immediately feel like home, while meeting people’s evolving care needs.
What is the current big trend in your sector?
There has been a shift in the senior living sector towards independent living units – bungalows or townhouses – as part of a larger retirement or assisted living scheme. These units provide access to the community and facilities of a retirement village without residents having to give up their privacy and independence. There is still a stigma attached to retirement living developments, so by providing independent living units we can create a stepping stone towards more specialist living.
What are the key challenges affecting your sector?
Senior living is an emerging sector and the challenge is to change people’s perspectives on what retirement living can be. We are working with our clients to design places that provide an aspirational move for the elderly. The greatest challenge is achieving this at the more affordable end of the market. We have seen some interesting changes on the continent with the introduction of multi-generational housing (student accommodation and the elderly living in the same scheme), but of course this won’t suit everyone.
What is your favourite project to date?
Refurbishing and redeveloping Sully Hospital in South Wales, a Grade II* listed modernist sanatorium that was used to treat TB. It was my job to transform this derelict building into a block of 240 flats. It was the first big project I ran myself and I saw it through from start to finish. It was an amazing sense of achievement.
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Travel more, experience everything and don’t worry that it takes 7 years to qualify – it’s not going anywhere.
If you weren’t an architect, what would you be?
I recently tried my hand at wood turning and thoroughly enjoyed it. I like working with my hands. Losing yourself to the process and seeing something materialise through the shavings and sawdust is incredibly satisfying.
- Forum for the Built Environment (FBE)