Second Beginnings: Senior Living Redefined

COLOURS: Collectively Ours

Commissioned by the Lien Foundation and produced by Singapore-based design consultancy COLOURS: Collectively Ours, Second Beginnings: Senior Living Redefined is a book project that proposes ten new architectural typologies to enable seniors to pursue passions, initiate interest-based activities, operate small businesses, exercise and, when the time comes, be cared for within the community. The project puts forward new ideas on how unused and underused spaces in land-scarce Singapore can be re-purposed into thriving communities for seniors, where they can lead active and engaged lives.

Singapore is one of the world’s fastest-ageing countries and the number of seniors will double to nearly a million by 2030. In 2018, the number of Singaporeans aged 65 and above is expected to match the number of those aged 15 years or younger for the first time. The seniors of tomorrow will be better educated and wealthier than the previous generation. With just one or two children – or none at all – they will have more diverse needs and higher expectations of how they would like to spend their senior years. No single solution will fit all.

Much of the focus and public discussions on ageing in Singapore so far has been on increasing capacity for senior care and on the software – the programmes – to enable people to age well in the community. Through this project, COLOURS wants to draw attention to the design of physical spaces. Some of the existing facilities/models can be psychologically alienating, making seniors feel more dependent on others, and marginalised. We need to develop social infrastructure that will encourage seniors to want to do more in society and allow them to become role models of active ageing.

Nine of the typologies proposed by COLOURS are building and landscape designs, while one is a retrofitted bus. Each is accompanied by suggestions of a few sites in Singapore where it could be located as well as case studies from around the world. The designs in the 176-page book are loosely grouped into two categories: decentralised wellness/lifestyle and care centres, and alternative residential living models such as assisted living facilities. Most involve repurposing existing buildings, infrastructure or spaces found in the city and help seniors find new purpose in life.

All ten typologies are the result of feedback from seniors and attempt to meld purposeful programmes with physical design. There is also a deliberate attempt to eschew senior living models seen commonly in Singapore such as studio apartments for the elderly and nursing homes. Seniors have diverse needs, interests, and aspirations; and most older Singaporeans not only want to age-in-place, but also want to age with familiar people and stay in a familiar community, i.e. to ‘age-in-community’.

Renders: COLOURS