Could an 'active third age' of people aged over 60 significantly change our cities?
Over the next 20 years the number of people aged over 60 in the UK is expected to increase by 40 per cent. Our post-retirement years will be longer and healthier. By 2040 the over 60 'active Third-Ager' will have substantially greater economic, social and political power.
Cities will need to adapt to house this greater proportion of older people. But in fact, it might also mean that many opportunities might present themselves as well.
The RIBA Building Futures report Silver linings: The Active Third Age and the City illustrates six future scenarios in which 'active Third-Agers' have made a huge impact on our towns and cities.
A positive vision of ageing in the city
Seaside towns could be revived with active third agers...
Traveling the world and staying in hostels is an idea more often associated with student gap years. In 2040, the next generation of third agers could have turned the idea on its head. With non-essential material possessions disposed of in favour of iPads and without the burden of property ownership, an international network of residences could replace home ownership allowing this generation to explore the world in style and comfort.
Alternatively an increase in multi-generational living could shape exciting new types of homes capable of meeting the needs of the whole family.
On the high street active third agers could stimulate a radical revival of our beleaguered high streets. Up and down the country, local high streets could become a fusion of public amenity, private enterprise and intergenerational exchange, all activated by third agers utilising their skills, time and energy to improve their community for themselves and their families.
Seaside towns could be revived with active third agers who want or need to continue to use their skills, have new leisure and social opportunities and more affordable living. This could kick-start the regeneration of coastal towns. The private sector could capitalise on the significant potential of a skilled and available older workforce - one with inadequate pension provision - and look to sponsor whole towns, building a new kind of local economy. It could be a Movie Making Studio in Margate or Samsung taking over Southport.
The city could become a living university...
Pop-up Universities could be set up using the wealth of knowledge and skill offered by a generation who enjoyed a boom of cheaper accessible higher education. The city could become a living university. You could drop in at your local pub or community centre for your one to one, lecture (or pint of locally brewed ale) with your tutor.
With 80% of those currently aged 65-74 in England not doing the recommended level of exercise, an active third age is not guaranteed for everyone. To help as many people as possible achieve a fulfilling, social and active third age, in the future we could see networks of 'health hubs', promoting exercise in public spaces and encourage active ageing and wellbeing for all.
How can we harness the potential of the active Third Age?
Ageing is rarely thought of as a positive opportunity, especially when it comes to the way we live in cities. What could be the innovations that shape the built environment of the future? And how can they harnesses the vast potential embedded within the active Third Age to deliver a more sustainable, resilient and engaging urban experience – a city for all?