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Challenges and Solutions for Ageing High-Rise Neighbourhoods in Japan and the UK


The project has the following aims to:

  • share UK and Japanese inter-disciplinary expertise on double-ageing high-rise neighbourhoods
  • evaluate current efforts to identify, adapt, and manage double-ageing high-rise neighbourhoods in Japan, explore similar future challenges in the UK, and consider the applicability of policy, design, and cultural transfer between contexts
  • define the future challenges, opportunities, and gaps in knowledge related to double-ageing high-rise development in Japan and the UK
  • jointly develop a new multidisciplinary network of researchers in collaboration with practitioners and establish a future research agenda on double-ageing high-rise neighbourhoods.

Drawing on a range of disciplinary and contextual knowledge we will seek to identify issues to these present day built environment challenges as well as future solutions. To achieve this the project brings together expertise on the study of the built environment from a range of disciplines, including:

  • geography
  • urban planning
  • sociology
  • urban design.

In doing so we will contribute to a deeper understanding of the role of path dependency, demographic change, the lived experience, and design in double-ageing high-rise neighbourhoods.

About the network

According to the United Nations, population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century, with implications for nearly every sector of society. This demographic shift will challenge national economic, health and support systems. The built form of cities poses a particularly onerous challenge as, unlike policy, it is physically difficult to change.

As people age their life spaces shrink, thereby increasing the importance of the immediate built environment. Without reliable transit, easy access to services, family and friends, older adults may face loneliness, depression and other health risks as their physical and cognitive world shrinks. Dense residential developments, such as high-rise neighbourhoods, offer an environment amenable to high quality late life independent living.

However, not all high-rise developments may be suited for the needs of an older population.


In Japan, the world’s oldest nation with 27% of the population 65 years of age or older, the housing stock is constantly renewed.

Due to the low quality of construction to meet demand of the booming population after the Second World War, and more recently, recurring code modifications to improve earthquake resilience, the average lifespan of a reinforced-concrete apartment building is only approximately 35 years.

The constant renewal of the housing stock provides the opportunity to adapt for an ageing population.


The UK, in contrast, has a younger population (18% of the population is 65 years of age or older) and older, mostly low-rise housing mixed with newer high-rise apartments being built in urban centres. However, like many countries around the world, the UK is ageing rapidly. By 2050, older adults in the UK are expected to make up one quarter of the population.

This begs the question of whether the UK built environment is adequately prepared for an ageing population.

While still emerging in the UK, ageing is an established element of Japanese society. This presents a unique and timely opportunity to learn from the challenges and successes in Japan, in order plan for a supportive built environment that minimizes the double risk of getting old in an ageing built environment.

This collaboration aims to share knowledge and experience of historic and current practice and research on ageing high-rise neighbourhoods in the UK and Japan to identify future challenges and develop solutions.


A series of workshops and walking tours highlighting variable ageing high-rise neighbourhood challenges in the UK and Japan as well as research symposium.

The project team

Dr Brian Webb

Senior Lecturer in Spatial Planning, Director of Postgraduate Studies


This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: