For my latest book, The Stackable Boomer, we asked author, artist and designer Douglas Coupland for his thoughts on baby boomers relocating from the suburbs to multi-family housing in urban centres. Here’s what he said:
Q. Many middle-income boomers are reluctantly moving to a condominium/apartment that’s smaller than the house in the suburbs they’ve left behind. Instead of leafy green streets, they’re surrounded by dense urban environments. What can we do/plan/ change/build/invent to make them feel at home?
A. If you look at cities that are disproportionately geriatric, Vienna, say, they all have severe noise restrictions and the thickness of walls is a simple but crucial selling point. I can’t count the number of hotel rooms (forget buying a condo) that I’ve changed over the years because of noise … honestly, 80 to 100. If I saw the words “double-thick walls with air cells to muffle all neighbourly sounds,” I wouldn’t look any further. Ditto triple-pane windows.
Another deal-sealer? Optical fibre Internet connection. Sold. Where do I sign?
Q. Anything else?
Here is a very strange but true fact: women in western cultures “fall” more than women in less developed cultures, not because their diets are full of chemicals but because they walk only on flat surfaces and never develop the dozens of stabilizing muscles in the ankle region. This, in turn, leads to a search for one-storey, trip-proof residences, which reinforces the issue. I wonder if there is such a thing as textural flooring that allows people in their homes to develop stability rather than fostering tripability.
David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting version of any story for early stakeholder engagement, internal audiences, regulatory approvals, consultant briefings and investor recruitment. His award-winning work in the real estate sector alone spans decades and continents. His most recent book, The Stackable Boomer, examines the movement of baby boomers to multi-family homes, and includes research results from a 1,000-boomer survey. He can be reached at [email protected].