By Randy Thoms
I am sitting here, with the computer, watching “Garfield” with my daughter, whom is home sick today, and thinking about school, all the deadlines and about what to blog?
So let me express what I am planning for my graduate thesis. Could the following be called a literature review, an abstract, a problem statement, a proposal or an introduction? Or is it for A1, A2, A3, A4, or A5? Or Panel Z1, C1, S1, or A1? Half the time I do not know what I am writing about or for which of the “chapters” in something that seems so far off in the future.
Once upon a time…sorry, I have been reading too many books for my daughter…. Let me start over…..
The Baby Boomers are coming…the Baby Boomers are coming! Well, coming of age. It has been 70 years since World War II, but after the high of victory, all those men coming home (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and the following economic prosperity we get a boom in births in the United States. The time period is defined as, by Encyclopedia Britannica, “increase in the birth rate between 1946 and 1964” (2013). With the psychology and understanding of how to handle and care for our “growing” aging population moving forward, so too should the architecture. By using a unique set of rules and current best practices, the following paper will examine research and benchmarks to inform a new approach for the design of senior living housing.
One place where this idea is accomplished, an approach to housing and community in a dense environment, is Europe. At the age of 12, I was lucky enough to live in The Netherlands for a year with my whole family. To this day, let me just say over 30 years later, (yes, I am designing my retirement utopia) it still holds as one of my ‘great awakenings’ in my life. We lived in a flat, on the fourth floor of 12, in one of three similar building on a one way street. My mother biked to the grocery store, what seemed like every other day, due to the dorm size refrigerator. I would ride my bike to school 4 miles away and play in the canal, as well as ice skate, behind the tower. But what this meant to us and my mom was fresh food, exercise and a sense of community. Not only was the mode of transportation slower, but living in a tower and walking to the Saturday market, lead to getting out more and talking with your neighbors.
Therefore, going back to my own experiences, an “old world” European village with its organic pattern of growth, and small unique enclaves begin the discussion of a new benchmark for a senior living village. Working in concert with this pattern, is the way buildings setback from the alleys to form streets and then plazas, opening up the possibility of public spaces to be used by the residents whom are biking or walking within their community. Other ideas expressed in European towns are the many pedestrian only streets, which allow for the walk ability to goods and services and inherit since of community and support. Next is an impressive public transportation system in place and utilized, so if the need arises to travel faster and further, a well maintained and easily accessible train and bus systems connect places far afield. All of these impressions, which will inform a new design for senior living, have a setting here in America.
Sounds like New Urbanism? So what has Europe been doing all this time?
Strange, is it not?