Life expectancy is increasing. Living 100 years will not be so exceptional in a few years. Science celebrates it as the great achievement of medical advancement to our evolution as a society.
Now, how to live these new years?
The number of people that ARE living alone in Europe is increasing. Intergenerational living in families or classic residences is a resource, but they are not a trend. Values such as independence or freedom are stronger than the “company value.”
A new system of collaborative housing is growing to age with friends or people of similar ages and interests called “Co-housing”.
This movement was originated in the Nordic countries in the sixties, developed in the United States throughout the eighties, and currently is gaining ground around the world.
What is co-housing based on? How will technology support this new way of living?
1 It is committed to the balance between the maintenance of individuality and the benefits of living together. Co-housing communities have homes to live alone or as a couple, but also have a large common space designed to share group activities (workshops, parties, concerts) gardens and for example A community orchard.
In a short time, many Apps will appear:
- We can look for co-housing communities where to reside, as we look for an apartment to buy or rent. Now there are websites and non-global networks of co-housing projects in Europe and the US, but in a few years, they will be interconnected and in/ON our mobiles.
- We can also look for like-minded people to live in co-housing and we will also be selected by our age profile, vital interests, and co-existence values to reside in them.
Technology and data will offer to meet interesting people, with a similar vision of life, tastes, and motivations, in order to increase the probability that future coexistence will be successful.
A successful coexistence example in Europe is OWCH Older Women Co-housing, UK. Six women started this project in 1998 and are currently a group of 26 women, aged from the early 50s to the late 70s. After 20 years they continue to share a community life project with a common goal, the determination of stay as independent and active as possible.
2 Architecturally, these homes are adapted to residents’ needs, efficient, without architectural barriers and sustainable from the point of view of saving and caring for the environment.
Ikea presented The Urban Village Project, with the aim of providing a better quality of life to people through a modular construction system, with different configurations (single people or groups of friends) where we are invited to divide and share the space as a new way of living in cities.
In the future also, these homes will be smart, and everything will be connected. Each element of the house will learn from its functions and it will adapt to the evolution of the needs that people living in co-housing have by age.
Data generated by the devices, detectors, services, networks, virtual objects will be analyzed to provide: secure access to housing, improvement of the comfort and assistance of its inhabitants and energy efficiency.
3 Administratively, co-housing homes are self-managed by the users. There aren’t hierarchies and roles are naturally distributed to manage household chores and property care. The co-housing habitants help each other in the practical and emotional issues, which allows them to take care of each other, be happy, active and healthy.
In no more than ten years we will have longitudinal studies on this type of population compared to people aging in other conditions. Collecting data about evolution and outcome of the health of co-housing residents could verify the physical and mental health co-housing benefits that are currently only verified in certain case studies, and in some quantitative evidence with a still small sample.
4 These new homes are also medically assisted when necessary, to ensure resident care. Significant cost savings will come from tele-care devices, tele follow-up in dementias case, mobile telemedicine or even telerehabilitation avoiding travel costs. Internet of things contribution will come through the widespread use of medical devices (weight, blood pressure monitor, thermometer …) and medication dispensers.
5 Although co-housing projects in Europe have grown considerably in recent years, for now, it is easy to have them located. In the future and thanks to geolocation, we will have co-housing homes maps in Europe and around the world, study their evolution and discover best-practices about their operation and location.
This will be essential for the launch of “flexible co-housing”, which will allow us to rotate through different co-housing and meet interesting people and places for a week or for a lifetime. This is Roam’s proposal (www.roam.co) with locations in San Francisco, Bali, London, Miami, and Tokyo.
Architectural, social, medical, legal and technological initiatives that will support the co-housing development that will grow exponentially in the coming years, in order to challenge us to provide necessary autonomy to the elderly for deciding on their future.
It is a very interesting idea making living longer and living better an own project. Have you thought about how and with whom you want to grow old with?