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R.A.W. Pod Design for ExtraCare Competition

March 20, 2018

James Smith and Ryan Bulled have achieved a top three place in ExtraCare’s Smart Pod competition. James and Ryan, Part II Architectural Assistants in our Birmingham office, impressed the judges with their R.A.W (Retreat Active Wellbeing) pod, which offers flexible and adaptable living that incorporates the latest technology to promote flexible living.

Competitors were asked to design a stand-alone unit which will showcase the future of retirement living. The Pod was to be designed as a home that people want to live in, not a care setting. The judges were looking for imaginative spaces, materials and construction features. The design needed to be flexible to accommodate assistive equipment and technologies, as well as reflecting the essentials of modern apartment living with imaginative features that provides ease, comfort and security for residents.

Ryan commented “Having worked on other modular projects like the YO! Home, it was interesting to apply the principles of adaptive and flexible design to a different setting”.  James added “A key area of interest for me is how we can use assistive technology. A lot of technology has already been developed and is in existence – what we as designers need to do is start looking at better ways of utilising by integrating it in sensible and holistic ways.”

The competition was run by ExtraCare, a registered charity that is a market leader in retirement living. The competition is part of their Research and Innovation Strategy, where they aim to use existing and emerging digital technologies to increase the performance of their spaces and improve the quality of living for their residents.

The design

James and Ryan’s R.A.W (Retreat Active Wellbeing) pod offers flexible and adaptable living that incorporates the latest technology to promote flexible living, future possibilities and to educate future generations how the living environment can help maintain and improve quality of life and independence.

Their vision for the future of retirement is to seamlessly incorporate flexible ways of living and assistive technology to empower independent, healthy and longer living. The R.A.W. pod adapts three key spaces of an apartment and demonstrates how these can be visioned for the future and provide homes that older people will want.

As part of their submission, James and Ryan stated:

“Increasingly, generations are growing up with the inclusion of technology in everyday life. It is possible to predict that growing up with this technology, coupled with integrated assistive equipment for living that future homes will need to be smarter. Growing old needs to be a positive step process that is assisted by a home that is flexible and intelligent to help. The R.A.W Pod will therefore seek to create a high quality, comfortable and technologically advanced series of spaces that demonstrates what the future could be as a natural progression. This future will help empower independence, allow us to be mobile but also look after our wellbeing.

The internal specification of the Pod will use materials that supports our sense of connection with nature using materials such as natural wood and high quality natural fabrics and paints. It should also use goods from suppliers whose aim is to provide everyday items that are designed to be connected with the needs of older people and with each other back to a smart hub. To interact with the smart hub, the heart of the R.A.W. Pod is the Smart Wall in each key space. It is integrated into the wall of integrated furniture and makes life’s tasks and the connection with the world much easier through an intuitive and easy system that responds to your voice, touch of the screen, smart phone or remote.”

An important feature of the R.A.W pod is the Smart Wall, which will do a variety of things including connecting the resident to the community, friends, family, carers, the internet, the television, and a virtual GP. A key feature will be the ability to remind the resident of appointments or medicines that needed to be taken. The interface will be adapted by ExtraCare to be tailored to a specific resident’s needs and will be managed at a central hub. To compliment the Smart Wall features of the R.A.W. Pod will be intelligent assistive technology that will promote confidence and quality of life as well as help with risks around the home.

The winner will be announced in a ceremony and lunch at the charity’s Longbridge village on the 20th April.