Monday, 25 November 2013

Silver Linings: The Active Third Age and the City

How does the ageing of society impact on the way people should be able to live in urban environments? AMA is taking a keen interest in the impact of ageing on many aspects of architectural design such as dementia care, housing design and environments suitable for people suffering from mental health problems. The recent Building Futures publication “Silver Linings – The active third age and the city”, released on the RIBA website in October, is an interesting contribution to the debate. It takes a prospective look at what urban Britain could look like in 2030 with an emphasis on how people over 65 might live and contribute to the lives of others in the urban context. This is of great significance as it is anticipated that there will be 2.8 people of working age to every person of pensionable age in Britain, compared to the figure of 3.2 people today.  

Many useful ideas are explored, however there is a significant omission, possibly intentional.  By including the term 'active' in the strap line “active third agers” the figures quoted and concepts reviewed fail to draw attention to the number of over 65 year olds who will be suffering from ill health and/or dementia. The urban environment must be conceived and designed to accommodate both the ‘active’ and the ‘non active’, so perhaps the next task for Building Futures is to develop this document further by looking at how each of the ideas within it will be tempered and must be modified to take this increasing and important cohort into account, providing a realistic and positive step forward in urban place making theory. Esther Ranzen’s new Silver Line Helpline is addressing one aspect of aging – loneliness. The design fraternity must be stimulated to play a role using their specific skills.

© RIBA 2013

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