Dorothy Taylor moved to London a year ago. She was fifty-four at the time, and had recently got divorced from her husband, with whom she had been married for 29 years. Last summer, when her 24-year-old son moved in with his girlfriend, she was left alone in her house. So not having any other reason to stay in the suburbs, she wanted to live in a more lively and sociable environment and avoid a long daily commute to work. These were some of the main reasons for her choice to move to London.
First stop: An estate agency. While Dorothy was little familiar with the city’s neighbourhoods she said to herself: “I pretty much know I have to live near my job”. So she looked at one-bedroom apartments in Clerkenwell, where the average monthly rent was over £1,400, in most cases for tiny apartments. Nope. She couldn’t afford that, and so she eventually landed in Islington, not too far from her job, where a woman named Sarah was subletting a room in her two-bedroom apartment for £900 a month.
Dorothy’s decision was not an easy one, whilst she didn’t want to spend too much money for a small studio or one-bedroom apartment she didn’t feel comfortable sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with a stranger at this stage of her life. And Sarah’s flat was hardly designed for her needs, with little privacy and with those awkward moments waiting for her turn to use the shared bathroom or having to stay in her tiny bedroom to read. But that was the price to live in the City.
But what if there was an alternative: An Adult Co-living space? One that has been specifically designed to maximize her privacy and personal space but allow for plenty of social interaction whenever she wants it. In other words, a clever mix of space planning and interior design to ensure that she feels at ease in this environment and has an ideal mix of intimacy and social contact.
Sharing a house or flat is a common scenario for students and young professionals but still a relatively new concept for people at a later stage in life. With the sharing industry all around us and co-living becoming a major trend in urban areas we need to start designing spaces for a new generation of city dwellers. People who want to share accommodation for company as well as financial reasons. Where quality of life is just as important as saving money.
Compared to a shared living space for younger people I see maximising people’s privacy as a first key differentiator and design objective – with a good-sized bedroom, en-suite bathroom and, where space allows, a walk-in wardrobe. Secondly, the design of the common areas needs to encourage socialising between occupants – with a cosy living room and a fully equipped kitchen with dining area so to enjoy a nice dinner together from time to time. Lastly, the number of rooms and size of the building both need to be limited to maintain a strong sense of community – with a maximum ratio of 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms to one shared kitchen and lounge.
By creating more spaces like this, people of all ages can pool their resources and live in a place they might not have been able to afford on their own.
Nuria Prieto - Interior Designer