"I'm not going to the home!" The Next Challenge for Architects and Designers

Trend | September 06, 2018 | Hanna Andrew

As the proclaimed "Me" generation, baby boomers have spurred the development of society, technology, architecture and design throughout every stage of their lives. 

Retirement appears to be no exception, inspiring yet another wave of development as boomers' desire for better retirement living brings about change within urban areas.

Many retirement homes are overrun and understaffed and—having been the ones to put them there—boomers have witnessed first hand the conditions and treatment endured by their parents and how an imbalanced patient-to-caretaker ratio leads to a lack of good care.1

As a result, approaching retirement themselves instead of entering these facilities boomers have begun to seek alternative long-term living accommodations.

Kirk Apartments Retirement Village

Some retired boomers are renting out rooms in their houses to fellow boomers. Some are modifying their homes to better accommodate their aging needs. Some are renting apartments or buying condominiums in the city to be close to their families, while others who can afford to do so are moving into gated communities.

The need for affordable rental accommodations in urban areas will only continue to grow as more boomers enter their retirement years.

Boomers want to remain a part of their community, and many are choosing a more active, engaged lifestyle in the city to achieve that. With their growing demand for urban accommodations, boomers are prompting the development of vertical retirement communities.

One of which has emerged in Australia.

U City Vertical Village Retirement Community Project

The U City project is a vertical retirement village, the first of its kind. Apartments sit atop floors housing such amenities as club lounges, function rooms, and even a café restaurant. While these featured areas are designed to cultivate community, there are a number of services and supports also made available to residents in assisting coordinating their personal needs. 

The availability of rental accommodations is low, however, and the majority of vertical retirement units are currently only for purchase. 

U City Vertical Village Retirement Community Project

The need for affordable rental accommodations in urban areas will only continue to grow as more boomers enter their retirement years; new structures will need to answer this call while taking into account their future healthcare challenges.

Residences will also need to target the aging population in more obvious ways.

The same safety considerations are still important in modern retirement homes, such as carpeting that prevents falls, walk-in showers, and modifed kitchen layouts that meet various physical needs. Orthopedic surgeries are one of the most common procedures amongst seniors,3 and accommodating their recovery can be done environmentally.

Focusing on the design of the space will take priority. Traditionally, retirement homes are full of dull colors and busy prints, and it is this traditional environment and subsequent depressive atmosphere it creates that boomers are attempting to avoid in today's homes. 

This is an opportunity for designers and architects to reinvent the retirement atmosphere from that of stagnant rooms and dull décor.

Kirk Apartments Retirement Village

The new retirement home can be a beautiful, welcoming space that fosters community. Design shared spaces to encourage interaction among friends and family of all generations. Even in high-rise vertical settings like the U City project, architectural layouts and resident-exclusive amenities can promote social activities.

The future market for seniors is an untapped opportunity to reinvent the retirement atmosphere, and through design, bring joy to baby boomers and the generations that follow.

1Elizabeth Payne, “Crisis in care: The long-term care system is failing our most vulnerable, but the need for the system is only growing” December 8, 2017.
2“Retirement in the heart of Adelaide could be so U” Last Modified August 20, 2018.
3LoCost Medical Supply, “The Most Common Orthopedic Surgeries in Seniors” January 26, 2018. 

Enjoy this article? Don't forget to share.

Add new comment