It is a fact that social interactions are a key determinant of happiness and life satisfaction following research results. When we become old we face two challenges: maintain mind and body healthy, as much as we can, having acceptable aging. It is also a truth that new generations will be more long-lived, for example, millennials have an expectancy of life average of 100 years. The science, data, and technology are helping us to live more time and overcome illnesses. Until the industrial revolution, the expectancy of life was no more than 45 years in Europe. What is the “issue” today? We are not dying! We are happy about it of course. But this brings as a consequence many issues to deal with in our cities. We need to plan the longevity overpopulation or critical mass in our society.
Would you like to become old? Probably, nobody wants. But it is not about: how old are you? It is about the vitality attitude you take to approach an active third age. And it is when the architecture, urban planning, and product design take an important role to support our oldies. The look of common spaces in co-housing models, community’s kitchen, mixed uses of co-housing/working, collectives, new schemes of social interaction between communities, families, expats and product design solutions for elderly that facilitates their fine motor skills are things, projects or ideas have been leading tendencies in Europe the last years, landing afterwards in developing countries.
We propose Inner living as an urban planning tool or a new vision of our third age. “My right to living the third age that I want”. We should choose who to live with from my inner circle, having the necessary emotional support daily in the community, understanding community as my own family, close friends, or unknown people, creating new inner circles with quality relationships. If I am able to have strong support every day, my confidence and skills to interact socially in our public spaces will increase.
Where to live is another personal decision linked to our pension investment in a housing model as a part of the public system and private funds of pension. Are we providing an attractive offer? Why do not we move from urban to rural and vice versa? Is Nomadism only for young people? We are going to live for 100 years! Flexibility and dynamism in housing models are what we need.
As architects, our humble role is to design according to the social demand received in municipalities. Otherwise, we propose architecture without soul and inactive in common spaces in “co-living”. Data is useful for having the first impression of the housing market but the last decision it has to be taken by citizens and the public sector. They are the perfect combination between structure and experimental city every day.
Would you like to be an Avatar in your third age? You are welcome! Age is not a limitation is an advantage of life experience and municipalities are the only entity with the faculty to hearing and practicing “third age urban planning tool” properly.