Putting age on the agenda


The connection between property development, placemaking and ageless design was the topic of exploration at our first U+I Think event for 2017 with The Age of No Retirement co-founders George Lee and Jonathan Collie.   

The Age of No Retirement is a movement for intergenerational social change bringing people and future-thinking organisations together to explore, learn and design a future that serves citizens, workers and consumers of all ages. In a world where resources feel increasingly stretched, life expectancy is rising and we’re retiring later, thinking flexibly about inter-generational connectivity and how all ages can benefit from proximity has never been more important.   

We were delighted to have George and Jonathan join us to share their design-led approach to affect change, challenge perceptions and help build products and services that work for everyone, regardless of their age.

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The Age of No Retirement has devised a list of 10 Intergenerational Design Principles to gauge how well sectors fare at producing products that appeal across the generations. Housing and accommodation does badly, particularly lagging behind on being Accessible, Clear & Intuitive, Not time-consuming, Flexible, Effortless and Delightful.

Speaking about the merits of ageless design, George Lee said: “When we design well and get it right we all become enabled. Are you going to complain about technology which is too intuitive, customer service which is too helpful, packaging which is too easy to grip, financial products which are too comprehensible and homes which meet lifetime needs? We don’t think so.”

The Age of No Retirement asked U+I Think attendees how they would use the Intergenerational Design Principles to create better places. Ideas from the floor were diverse; a ban was proposed on elderly care homes – “ghettos for the old” – to improve life expectancy and reduce isolation. And to address the need to slow down, which was a desire felt across all age ranges in the research, it was suggested that public space be redesigned to contain “areas, not routes” to encourage a slower pace of life.

The purpose of our series of U+I Think events is to encourage the exploration of new ways of thinking, looking beyond the confines of the property industry and our own prescribed view of the world. U+I wants to question the status quo by inviting inspirational individuals to take to the stage - people who aren’t necessarily directly linked to property, but whose ideas spark debate and raise issues that affect our industry.

In the words of Brenda Bates, U+I’s Director of Communications and Business Services:“U+I strives to create inclusive places where people and communities can thrive, so there is much we can learn from and apply to our projects using The Age of No Retirement’s principles for an age-neutral future.”