With a host of bold new plans for multigenerational living, you too might spend your golden years cavorting with tykes you’re not related to. Thanks to the housing crisis of 2008, increasing urbanization and an aging population that will see roughly 98 million golden oldies in the U.S. by 2060, the debate about how and where we age is taking center stage. Designers are increasingly looking at how intergenerational housing and retirement facilities can be combined in healthy, interactive and transparent ways. Meanwhile, older ideas like cohousing — a Scandinavian innovation that features generations growing up side by side and sharing common space — are getting a new life.
Studies by the Pew Research Center show that approximately 51 million Americans — nearly 17 percent of the population — already live with other adult generations, often within their own families. Since the most recent housing crisis, millennials have struggled to break out on their own, and many have ended up living with parents and grandparents. Some families are retrofitting their homes to accommodate these adult children; many new builds connect single-family homes with granny-style apartments that cater to aging loved ones.
After 25 years of slow and steady growth, the cohousing movement also has seen a recent uptick in interest, according to Alice Alexander, executive director of the Cohousing Association of the United States. An additional 130 projects soon will come online to join the existing 162 communities, a trend Alexander expects to net huge growth over the next decade.
More ambitious projects are in the works. German-born architect Matthias Hollwich, of Hollwich Kushner in New York, spent years designing his approach to a new way of aging: the sculptural Skyler Tower, a 1,000-person mixed-use skyscraper with health care, nurseries, offices, studios, duplexes and hubs for retirees. The concept is that a person could live well at any age in Skyler, which Kushner hopes will be a model for how cities can encourage intergenerational living from birth to death. […]