This House Believes that our Cities are not Prepared for an Ageing Population
Tuesday 24 April 2012
In 2010 17 per cent of the UK population was aged 65+ but by 2035 the proportion of people aged over 65 is projected to increase to 23 per cent.
We all know that the UK population is ageing, but what does this mean for our cities? By 2030, we will live in a society in which the over 65s will no longer find themselves a minority demographic. Increases in longevity and healthy life expectancy mean we’re also seeing a substantial increase in a new, active ‘third age’: those around retirement still keen and able to participate socially, culturally and politically. In the past people have often favoured retiring to rural areas, but will we witness the same trend with the metropolitan baby boomer cohort, many of whom have spent most of their lives living in cities, and have no intention of leaving? If the proportion of older people in our society increases by a third over the next two decades, what will this mean for cities that are typically built by, and for, the working age population and their children?
If the aim is to enable older people to remain active and engaged in our society, then we need to recognise ageing as a life phase that we will all eventually share; a phase in which the design of the built environment could have as much impact on social exclusion as income or health. What changes are needed to ensure that older people can participate fully in civic life, amidst a decline in community infrastructure that has disrupted traditional social networks, increasing the risk of alienation and loneliness? How can the fabric and programme of cities respond to create new social capital, bring different generations together and harness the skills and knowledge embedded within the active third and fourth age? How might we develop our built environment to support, facilitate and nurture our shifting demographics? And how can we ensure that we don’t ‘design out’ great swathes of our society of the future?
Debate in collaboration with Demos
Proposing the motion:
Alan Hatton-Yeo, Chief Executive, The Beth Johnson Foundation
Dr Ros Altmann, Director General, Saga
Opposing the motion:
Indy Johar – Architect 00:/
Victoria Thornton – Founding Director, Open-City
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Tuesday 24 April 2012 7.00pm
Tuesday 24 April 2012 9.00pm
Wren Room, RIBA HQ
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