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Towards the all-age friendly city

The All-Age-Friendly City project, carried out in Spring-Summer 2014, emerged from a desire to imagine the future city from the perspectives of those people – children and older adults – who are too often overlooked in the design and planning of cities today.

Today, reports on ‘the Smart City’ tend to make little or no mention of the wide variety of different age groups living in cities, or of the different and sometimes shared needs of a multi-generational city. This is not just an inevitable oversight that arises when working age adults design infrastructure. It is also a serious flaw in the design imagination shaping the future city: significant amounts of public expenditure go precisely to these age groups and to those institutions and services responsible for addressing the interests of children and older adults. If we want a future city that is adequate
to the people living in it, therefore, designers, policy makers, developers and planners need to think carefully about all ages and stages of life.

To begin to address this issue, the All-Age-Friendly City project brought together researchers working in childhood and aging, members of local government, artists, community groups, computer scientists, developers, planners and practitioners working with children and older adults, to develop
ideas about how cities might better meet the needs and interests of our oldest and youngest generations.

This first working paper builds on desk research and workshops conducted by the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, in collaboration with the Future Cities Catapult in Spring/Summer 2014. It outlines why designing the All-Age-Friendly city is an urgent contemporary concern, the resources that are available to us to do this, and identifies four key areas for future
development:

  • building intergenerational trust; 
  • encouraging encounters across generations;
  • re-imagining housing; and 
  • creating all-age-friendly transport systems. 


We are grateful to the TSB/Future Cities Catapult for funding the workshops, and to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for enabling Keri’s involvement as part of her Connected Communities Leadership Fellowship.  We are also grateful to the contributors to the workshops who contributed
their ideas and experience so generously.

This is the start, we hope, of a longer conversation about how we can create cities that are not just livable in terms of the technologies and infrastructure that underpin them, but that harness such infrastructure to generate experiments in humane, caring and empowered ways of life for all
generations.

We look forward to continuing the discussions with others who are interested in this aspiration.

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This blog has been reproduced by kind permission from the abstract of the report Towards the all-age friendly city.

It has been written by Cabot Institute members Keri Facer, Lindsey Horner, and Helen Manchester, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol.

Read the press release Lego housing, automatic ambulances and car-free streets

Keri Facer
Helen Manchester

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