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Future Cities Catapult ‘All Age Cities’ meet

Keri Facer and Helen Manchester (PI on this project) recently received some funding from the Future Cities Catapult to explore the concept of an ‘All Age’ Future City. On May 21st the first workshop of two took place at the Graduate School of Education in Bristol.

A select group of participants, with expertise in working with young and older people and including members of the Tangible Memories team (Ki Cater, Pete Bennett and Jennie Reed from Alive!) came together to explore and imagine a future city designed with multiple generations in mind. The themes are hugely relevant to the project as we have become increasingly concerned with the growing spatial and relational divides between the very old and the young, the lack of opportunity that older people have to enjoy being outside and the need to rethink the way that ‘care’ is viewed and organised in relation to our ageing demographic. As Liz Lloyd suggested at our steering group meeting back in February it is helpful to think about care as something that all of us will require at different times in our lives.

The aims of the day were:

  • To introduce interesting people to each other
  • To explore what happens when we imagine future cities with multiple generations in mind
  • To explore the future city through the eyes of different generations
  • To identify creative opportunities for future collaborations – networks, projects, services

Participants took part in a series of activities in which they shared their expertise and knowledge and were encouraged to imagine new possible future cities with a focus on what might happen to relationships between generations. Bringing people together from different perspectives and with diverse disciplinary interests including death studies, those delivering cultural activities in care homes, those with expertise in designing tangible technologies and others who develop ‘playing out’ initiatives across the city, helped to create a vibrant space of imaginative, intellectual and social exchange between people who don’t usually end up in the same room.

Ideas for future work and reflections on the workshop included:

  • Creating a network enabling people across the city to share ideas and resources – working together to figure out how to push some of these topics forward – helping people think beyond their own project and to see where the connections are
  • Creating an intergenerational ‘living lab’ in the city where creative technologists and artists come together with social scientists to imagine the kinds of projects or services that might be developed with multiple generations in mind
  • Mapping out the existing projects/intergenerational activities/ children’s activities/ older activities happening and develop an understanding of the different projects– ask how these might relate to each other?
  • Work out what the measures of success for intergenerational exchange might be eg how to measure  ‘intangible values’ – how to judge this – at a city level? An individual level? A community level?
  • In the context of initiatives such as the Age friendly/ child friendly cities could this be re-thought as ‘the ‘human friendly’ city – what does that look like?  In fact – what about the ‘convivial city’?

On June 5th we will be holding another day’s event. Please do contact Helen.manchester@bristol.ac.uk if you’d like to come along.

PATINA Cultural Probe 1
Envisioning the possible Future City through newspaper headlines.