What happened when organizers of a public space makeover put “inclusive” at the top of the checklist.
Have you ever wondered why abandoned or dilapidated buildings lie vacant for years on end, why traffic patterns isolate people from businesses, or why there are so few safe and accessible open spaces in your community?
Edward Steinfeld, AIA and Director of the IDeA Center, wrote a fantastic article for the American Architectural Foundation about the need for age-friendly community design. Steinfeld argues that the creation of age-restricted communities, like The Villages in Orlando, FL, removes older adults who can afford them from the community at large. This negatively impacts communities, which greatly benefit from the contributions of active seniors. The lack of age diversity in these segregated senior communities also creates a situation that is not socially sustainable for the residents. Steinfeld wonders what will happen in these communities once most of the residents are in their 80s and 90s. What’s the solution?
Steinfield goes on to explore the ways in which Universal Design can make communities more functional and beneficial for all citizens, including older adults. He discusses how stores like IKEA have used Universal Design to benefit their customers and improve sales. Steinfeld also explores the model of Nordic co-housing communities, which have no age restrictions and can help to support older adults while allowing them to continue engaging in the wider world.
The “complete streets” movement has taken the United States by storm, and has even taken root in countries such as Canada and Australia. Few movements have done so much to influence needed policy change in the transportation world. As of today, almost 300 jurisdictions around the U.S. have adopted complete streets policies or have committed to do so. This is an amazing accomplishment that sets the stage for communities to reframe their future around people instead of cars.