McCarthy & Stone chooses RIBA winner

06 June 2013

Tom Russell Architects from Bristol has won McCarthy & Stone's Re-imagine Ageing RIBA design competition with a concept that challenges pre-conceptions around housing for people in their later years.

A partnership between McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement developer, and RIBA Competitions, the Re-imagine Ageing initiative was devised in response to extensive research by McCarthy & Stone which had shown that whilst some older people see the benefits of downsizing in order to release equity, they often don’t want to change or sacrifice their lifestyles, such as having space to entertain, welcome visitors or enjoy interests and hobbies.

By showcasing architectural design beyond what has previously been available in terms of retirement accommodation in the UK, the winning ‘Inside Out Outside In’ concept embraced the principles regarding living environments that were recommended in the Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) Report, published in 2009.

Significantly, the judging panel, which was chaired by award winning RIBA architect Robert Sakula and comprised a mix of internal and external experts, was impressed that the conceptual design-led properties offered a shared purpose through providing the greater sense of space, light and accessibility that had been recommended by HAPPI.

McCarthy & Stone Executive Director Ali Crossley said:

"The winning entry contained many visionary ideas for accommodation that directly respond to the generational shift in the perception of age that the sector is currently experiencing. We believe that the design provided by Tom Russell Architects will appeal to the inherent ideals of the next generation of older people, and we are now looking at how we can work with them to evolve new housing products .”


In the Tom Russell Architects submission, every apartment has its own front door and is dual aspect to maximise daylight hours. Ground floor apartments have their own courtyard garden, while those on the first floor have a raised external area and balcony. The homes comprise generous living spaces, including two bedrooms and two bathrooms and space to entertain. Owners would have total independence and privacy but could come together as a community when and as they wished. There is a Clubhouse for events, while the grounds also offer a range of opportunities for shared and individual activities.

Sustainability was an intrinsic part of the submission with a strategy that sets out to reduce energy use, water consumption and surface water run-off. The plans include space for a combined heat and power system which would use surplus heat for a swimming pool. Principles of sustainable urban drainage systems have been incorporated into the landscaping and the asymmetric roof forms will accommodate solar panels.

Judge Robert Sakula of Ash Sakula Architects, added:

“This proposal, with its elegant layout and intelligent balance of privacy and community, really advances the debate as to how older people want to live. It’s a beautiful scheme and a worthy winner.”

In addition to Tom Russell, the other four finalists were:

-              AU Studio, London

-              Inglis Badrashi Loddo Architects, London

-              Living Space Architects with Hilary Lawson, Exeter

-              wap architects, Sheffield.


The five practices each received £2,000 with the winner getting an additional £3,000 as per the guidelines set by RIBA Competitions.

McCarthy & Stone were so impressed with the quality of thinking that it is now looking to work with Tom Russell Architects to make their ‘Inside Out Outside In’ vision a reality either wholly or in part, on an appropriate site. Further, it is likely that it will work with a number of the other architects that entered the competition when future needs arise.

A selection of images from all five finalists’ submissions can be viewed here


For further press information:

Eve Parkin
Haslimann Taylor PR
0121 265 7070