Just Turned 40? An Architect Says It’s Time To Design For Aging

April 4, 2016
NPR — By Meredith Rizzo

“When Architect Matthias Hollwich was approaching 40, he wondered what the next 40 years of his life might look like. He looked into the architecture that serves older adults, places like retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and didn’t like what he saw. But what if we changed our habits earlier in life so we could stay in the communities we already live in?


‘Retirement communities sounded great when they were created, but now when you retire, you may live there for 30 or even 40 years,’ he says. ‘You play golf and bingo; [you’re] not really part of the general society.’


Hollwich, a visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania, discussed the idea with students and faculty. They created a conference on aging to talk about how adults could continue to engage with society as they got older. Maybe a nursing home could turn into a healthiness hub, or an informal volunteering app could provide support to older people.


Even though Hollwich began by thinking about architecture, he realized that people need to create a social structure that supports them, too.


So he and his architectural firm, HWKN, partnered with Bruce Mau Design to compile ideas for living in a bright, friendly book, New Aging, published last week by Penguin Books. The book serves as a guide for thinking about aging much earlier. Hollwich, now 44, spoke with Shots about his ideas on the architecture of aging.”