Victor Leung, Year 4, PG13 2020


An Active Ageing Utopia Amidst Continued Carbon Offsets

Neave Brown’s Alexandra Estate (Kilburn, Camden; 1978) vision, initially dubbed “Costa del Alexandra” after the sunny retirement utopia of Costa del Sol, has gradually weathered away. As it aged, so did its residents and the UK (1/3 are 65+). With retirees projected to grow 20-25% by 2050, these issues, coupled with likely-reduced pensions/care, social isolation and material deprivation, present unappealing retirement on the estate and its ward. Future climate change further threatens retiree livelihoods.

Costa del Alexandra 2050 builds upon the original council-led model to create intergenerational retirement co-housing directly across the railway (West Coast Main Line), north of Alexandra Estate. The scheme redevelops the undesirable site into a carbon-offset building for High Speed Two (HS2) powered by waste railway heat.

Camden Council has requested a Section 106 planning obligation for the construction of HS2 Phase 1, with HS2 Ltd. and Network Rail agreeing to contribute funds and grant land towards a Community Land Trust (CLT), formed by charity Ageing Better in Camden. Long promoting outreach to socially isolated elderly, the NGO has gathered  like-minded older Kilburn residents and existing site residents to design and build “Costa del Alexandra 2050,”an active ageing co-housing community. Network Rail will provide most construction materials, from disused railway sleepers, rail-side coppice wood and  cleared woodland timber from HS2’s construction, whilst the structural strategy will enhance the circular economy of materials, all to continue the carbon offsetting intent.

Here, older residents pursue an active lifestyle within a controlled microclimate, involved in daily agricultural leisure for consumption and further carbon offsetting. This will mostly occur in “communal courtyards” between residential units that host social activities including spillover gatherings, after-school programs and resident skill-sharing. Active ageing extends from basement coppice-wood workshops to rooftop greenhouses, contributing to the prolonging of lives of mutual support/care and continued carbon offsetting.

August 18, 2020