How can spaces be designed for all ages?

There’s been a lot of recent interest in developing coherent scientific theories on issues affecting urban planning and design, such as the logic of crowds. And while many aspects of the open-world experiences of games like L.A. Noire and Assassin’s Creed have been praised, this type of authenticity isn’t always one of them (our reviewer Kirk Hamilton even referred to Los Angeles as Cole Phelps’s “purgatory”).

Game spaces often come across as deliberately crafted for the action of vibrantly agile and hostile actors, which certainly makes Arkham City enjoyable but all the more ridiculous. A recent article in The Atlantic suggests that modern cities have the same problem:

…in many aging societies, where the proportion of seniors will grow as much as four-fold over the next two decades, public space improvements alone won’t make large urban areas, especially car-dependent suburbs, more suitable to the needs of older residents. Indeed, one of the most difficult questions facing urban areas is how they will go about making themselves more age-friendly.

Accessibility is obviously a big piece of the puzzle. In Japan, where the aging curve is further along, planning officials and architects have promoted “universal design” principles that can be found in such amenities as multi-generational housing meant to address the shortage of caregivers.

Perhaps as games are struggling with adapting to an older and aging demographic of players, they can also teach us something about real world building as well. As one urban planner quoted in the piece put it: “We have to stop building cities as if everyone is 30 years-old and athletic.”

Yannick LeJacq

[via The Atlantic Cities]