Many of the current western-society’s goals and searches are based in ephemeral values like youth, esthetic beauty, money and status, neglecting an inevitable path that (almost) all of us will walk: aging. Matthias Hollwich, together with the Architectural Department of the University Pennsylvania, has created the New Aging International Conference to deal with the relationship between Aging and Architecture and propose new ways and solutions to face the challenges related to the loss of social and physical abilities associated with aging.
I met Matthias las year during Picnic 2009, where he was one of the featured speakers on Organic Design and I was struck by his straightforward philosophy that respects the users, the influence by nature and social evolution and its holistic approach to finding architectural solutions. He told me that
“Building for the aging population is the next frontier that architects and planners need to take much more seriously. Remember – we are not building for the elderly – we are building for people like you and me, a year or decade or two down the line. So the question is, how do YOU want to live when you are old?!”
Matthias Hollwich is co-founder of HOLLWICHKUSHERN LLC. (HWKN), a New York City based architecture and concept design firm focused on the deployment of targeted research and fast-footed development to create innovative and responsible projects that exist at the intersection of client, user, and nature.
From the event’s website:
As time passes and social networks erode because of death and infirmity, architecture can become a barrier exacerbating physical limitations, social isolation and dependency, which further shrinks the radius of activities and relationships. Smarter architecture and smarter urbanism can make a difference. The elderly want what everyone wants, the freedom to meet people, to have a bit of fun, and to lead an independent life.
Architecture has failed to find a mechanism for dealing with the body’s decay. Modernism’s obsession with youth culture and its reinvention of traditional family structures rendered its designs powerless in this realm. Contemporary design yields more from regulations than a concern for ergonomics and the efficacy of good architecture. These workshops will search for a new type of architecture that envisions a new way of life – a life that reintegrates the final phase of our lives into normality.
The New Aging Conference will investigate recent advances in architecture and urbanism dealing with age related challenges; ones that assures the best utilization with the utmost dignity for age. Guests within and outside of the design profession will provide the professional and visionary background of the conference, lead to a manifesto on “New Aging” in Architecture.
The event will offer a multi-level format with keynotes, hand-on workshops, matchmaking sessions, and open houses at collaborating institutions and features three tracks related to Prototyping the future, Visiting the future and Applying the future. They are collecting visitors vision for the future on the website, where you can answer to the question “When I am old I will live in a:___________“.
New Aging Award 2010
The University of Pennsylvania, together with the architecture networking platform Architizer, also founded by Hollwich, has launched the New Aging Award 2010 “in a search for progressive architectural designs (realized or conceptual) for the elderly. With a concern that banal architecture has become a barrier exacerbating physical limitations, social isolation, and dependency, the New Aging Award is looking for designs that break these trends and offers a design quality that enables the elderly to lead a life of dignity”.
The New Aging international conference will take place on October 1st & 2nd, 2010, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Department of Architecture (Philadelphia, USA). For more information visit the official website.