Rebellious living into old age

The disappearance of care homes means that there is an increasing need for collective housing for the elderly. During an online hackathon on 25 March, seniors and students took part in the design competition ‘Contributing to building housing for the future’. They were given the task to design innovative, rebellious, living concepts for seniors in the future.

For social entrepreneur Roy Wesenhagen, “social engagement is a major challenge when developing new residential and living environments. Connecting people of different ages improves quality of life”.

Design competition

During the design competition, students from THUAS, University of Applied Sciences Leiden, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, as well as seniors devised solutions for the issue of housing elderly people in the future. In 5 teams, they outlined a new, innovative living concept that focused on living together and community living. The students each brought their own knowledge from degree programmes such as Nursing, Industrial Engineering & Management, and the Physical Education Teacher Training (HALO) Programme. Professors Joost van Hoof from the Urban Ageing research group and Katja Rusinovic from the Metropolitan Development research group supervised the brainstorming afternoon.

More interaction

A central part of the hackathon was the importance of a residential community in which all generations could live side by side. “At present, many seniors live alone in a house that is too big, while many young people who have just started a family are looking for a more spacious home. In a living concept of the future I can see the social benefits of having more interaction between generations,” said Jan van der Veer, a participant in his mid-fifties.

Pyramid on water

According to government architect Floris Alkemade, an “innovative, novel, and complete living concept” eventually emerged from what was a fruitful afternoon. “We really wanted something new and rebellious,” explained Liza Tymchanko, who studies Health Economy, Policy & Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam. “Land is scarce in the Netherlands, while sustainability is an unavoidable requirement for construction in the future”. Together with the seniors and with her fellow students, Liza designed an eco-building on water in the shape of a pyramid.

Communal barbecues

“While I was designing it, I thought about how I would like to live in the future. I’d like a quiet place with abundant nature, different generations, and naturally, as a HALO student, lots of facilities where you can keep active. After all, physical activity brings people together,” said Laura de Ruiter who is a fourth-year student in the HALO degree programme at THUAS. Laura: “It can be very cosy here in old age. Communal barbeques, greenhouses, and a splendid view across the water. This is where I want to live in the future!”

Seniors who like to party

According to Zsuzsu Tavy, a researcher in the Urban Ageing research group, there are many preconceptions about the elderly. “For instance, that elderly people do not want to live with young people because of excess noise. During the hackathon, it emerged that this image does not always ring true. Or as the jury put it, ‘some elderly people just want to party!’” The winning team will develop the pyramid concept with social entrepreneur Roy Wesenhagen from D’article. Roy: “We’re going to develop this striking, innovative concept and take it from a utopian idea to a tangible example of living in the future”.

Responsible rebellion

This hackathon was organised as part of the SIA RAAK MKB project ‘Towards responsible rebellion: governance and participation in collective housing for the elderly’ at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The study focuses on governance and participation concerning the development of collective housing for seniors, and looks at initiatives, entrepreneurs, and managers who deliberately do things differently. For more information about this project, visit The Hackathon was also made possible by support from Grey Valley, Atelier Rijksbouwmeester, D’article and Progodo.