January 2018

Publica and Tonic hosted a design charrette, which invited participants from a number of architecture and design practices to contribute to the identification of key design principles. These principles are intended to serve as guidance for Tonic as they choose a site, and begin to consider the design of the buildings themselves, and their interior and exterior spaces.

Working in three groups, the participants used example sites in Islington to discuss the factors which should be prioritised in choosing a site, considering factors like the size of the site, and its proximity to amenities. The groups then moved on to discussions over the design of their chosen site.

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They considered how to manage important issues like ensuring a balance between public and private space, and designing flexible living spaces that might be able to adapt to residents’ changing needs.

The evening’s findings are currently being collated into a booklet, which will be made available in the coming weeks.

April 2017

Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTE) and Publica have been working closely with Tonic to help establish the identity of the Tonic Centre. Over the next 12 months they will be contributing to a series of consultative design workshops with the aim to establish what is important for an LGBT+ retirement community and how design can play a part in building that community. The challenge used to be helping older people find a voice; today it is about managing multiple voices and reaching consensus, without confusing consultation with design-by-committee

PTE has been designing homes for older people, in both the public and private sector, for over 30 years. Their schemes have won awards, but more importantly they have taken part in the debate about improving housing for older people. PTE helped pioneer ‘community architecture’ in the 1970s, and understanding what people want from their homes and neighbourhoods remains intrinsic to their approach. Publica brings research and intelligence to the design development process. They think strategically and creatively about places at every scale, working with resident and community groups for the best outcomes. 

We recently sent out a survey to find out how many of you would be willing to participate in these face-to-face design workshops. We were delighted that 70% of you were interested in attending. If you did not fill in the survey but are interested then please send an email to, but be quick as we will be sending out the event invitation very soon! In future newsletters, we will be sharing the outcomes of each workshop and encouraging your feedback.

The workshop process has been developed to consider design by looking at it in varying degrees of privacy, for example: 

Starting outside:

What is the identity of the place, how should it integrate with the wider community, what does it look like and where/what is the ‘front door’? 

Moving inside to shared spaces:

Is there a reception, what facilities should there be for residents, what facilities are there for visitors or the public, where should they be located?

The resident’s home:

What is important to make a ‘home’, how do you use each room, access to outside space, to views, light and thinking about finishes? 

Look out in the next newsletter as details start to emerge from our first workshop.



Q & A