Will Baby Boomer Trends Redefine the Future of Cities?
Did you know that, according to the World Health Organization, in just 16 years, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities and by 2050 this will rise to 70%? Millions of these city dwellers will be Boomers. In fact, the U.S. Census projects that by 2024, there will be 55-million boomers in the U.S. The big question facing city planners is – where and how are we all going to live?
More specifically, how will our longer life expectancy and desire for an independent lifestyle impact housing trends? Will city planners and architects be proactive about building age friendly cities? How will they design an infrastructure that helps us to stay mobile and healthcare facilities that keep us healthy and happy?
Many government and business leaders understand the fundamental changes that baby boomer trends will bring to cities. But, will they act fast enough? Only time will tell.
This article explores some of the fascinating ways that boomers may change the face of cities in the future. From increased lighting to wider sidewalks, lower buses to more benches, many cities have already started to accommodate to the need of their older citizens.
Beyond infrastructure, boomers will also have a big impact on the design of housing developments. Empty nesters don’t want to be socially isolated, but, at the same time, they don’t want to be dependent on their children (or anyone else for that matter.)
One opportunity for architects will be to design buildings that give us the best of both worlds. Will we want colorful, quirky high-rises, like this project in Rotterdam? Or will we gravitate towards senior cohousing communities with onsite healthcare units that can serve us in our later years?
Another trend that boomers are driving is the popularity of cohousing communities. These are communities of self-contained private homes or apartments, built around a common infrastructure. Residents have their privacy, but, they also have access to entertainment, meals and community when they want them.
When I asked the Sixty and Me community to describe their ideal living space, they painted a picture something like a cohousing community. The community also overwhelmingly wanted to live in a multi-generational setting.
So, given these baby boomer trends, what is the future of cities? One thing is for sure. As more baby boomers reach their 60s, they will have an impact on almost every aspect of city life. Our generation is pushing for innovation in almost every aspect of our lives and city planners will have their work cut out to help us stay healthy, happy and connected.
Where do you want to live as you get older? Would you consider living in a co-housing or intentional community?