Architects for Urban Aging – 1

Third Age. Basically described as “a period in life of active retirement, following middle age”, this term has occupied Boomer vocabulary for some time, as another way of re-framing our mind set around retirement and old age. Then there’s the whole Tolkien Third Age, Middle-earth time frame to consider. But let’s not get carried away. Or should we?

Along comes RIBA; the Royal Institute of British Architects and it’s 2013 concise publication; Silver Linings: The Active Third Age and the City. This is a juicy little play book of urban future scenarios for 2030. Not far away in terms of middle-earth, but perhaps it’s as if you are already a “third-ager” in a hurry.

Early on, this “silver linings” urban future begins with framing an active (there’s the operative word) third age as those “60 to 74…still engaged in leisure, and cultural pursuits. They can expect a significant period…between their formal working lives and old age (the point at which they may require assistance or care) unless we see retirement age increased substantially.”

So does that mean there is a “fourth age” beyond middle-earth? And where and how do we set the blurred boundaries of aging between these zones? This is where the trouble lies with catchy terms like “third age or “encore years” or “zoomer life”.

Yet, future scenario planning and urban design is important if we want more out of the promise of longevity and RIBA sets a great visionary lift off conversation for people of all ages. 

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