Alternative Retirement Spaces

Proposed architectural designs for Boom, a 100-acre alternative retirement space.

via Coolhunting:

What began as an innovative project for LGBT retirees seeking refuge from cookie-cutter approaches to conventional retirement has evolved into something much more ambitious. More than 100 acres in the Mojave Desert will soon be the site of a $250 million idea, bringing together 10 architectural firms from five countries to succeed where so many fail by reclaiming shared community spaces that invite pedestrians and casual interactivity among neighbors.

Located near Palm Springs, California—an area known for perennial sunshine and wide-open spaces—Boom will cater to outdoor living with pedestrian pathways and communal spaces, as well as eateries, wellness centers and shops. Living spaces include private homes, assisted living and a nursing home. Each separate development will differ as the individual architects are being given free reign to realize their ideas of livability, adding diversity to the common goal of functionality and livability.

Another exciting facet to the project is that the Boom community already exists in virtual space. Participants can brainstorm and create a shared vision with the developers and architects in these early stages when the buildings are still rendered lines in an AutoCAD program.

…the overarching idea is a space where denizens celebrate life with each other rather than retreat into isolation that so many other modern developments ultimately foster—as lead designer Matthias Hollwich from HWKN explained to his fellow architects, “Boom has to be about living, not retiring, about inclusion and not seclusion.”

Nursing homes can be a scary place. Being stuck in high school was a horrible experience for many of us. It sucked because you were grouped with a bunch of people you had nothing in common with, simply because you were all teenagers. Being in a conventional nursing home is probably similar, except you’re all old and don’t have the prospect of escaping into adult life to look forward to. Perhaps that’s an overly depressing way of looking at it. But according to a recent survey in the UK, more people “fear losing independence in old age than death.” Perhaps being in a nursing home that’s part of a community in line with your interests wouldn’t be so bad. As a friend recently said, “anything that there’s currently a cruise for, there will one day be a retirement community for.” Well, there’s a goth cruise. A rave cruise. One day, there will probably be a Burner/hippe retirement community, with dreadlocked 70-year-olds listening to psy-trance.

Some questions: in the event that you could no longer live on your own, what kind of people do you want to spend your twilight years with? Would you rely on the family you make in the world to create this kind of space? Would you join in a retirement community based on common interests, like hacking/period costuming/witchcraft/polyamory/sci-fi? What would the day-to-day activities in this place be like, in an ideal world? What do you envision really uniting you with people as you get older, as opposed to things that turn out to be passing interests?

7 Responses to “Alternative Retirement Spaces”

  1. Blue Stahli Says:

    Great to see this topic come up here and treated with more heart than a mere three line blurb. So, you know, thank you for the continuing social consciousness and such. It’s unfortunate that the realities of assisted living and hospice are typically not so high on our priority list as a culture until it’s time to place a loved one in care. As someone who’s spent quite a lot of time in these facilities (I have the world’s most badass grandpa currently in hospice and his lovely, incredible wife has recently passed in the same facility over xmas) I can attest that it’s disheartening as all living hell to witness the complete loss of independence, privacy, and dignity upon entering these places. I doubt any of us would be super jazzed about being made to share a room with someone we don’t know with only a thin curtain between our tiny spaces while they either blare their television or repeatedly yell “Help me!”…yet this is the day-to-day in a typical joint like this. I fear the main cause of why we can’t improve current conditions and comfort levels falls somewhere in the “not enough damn money or interest” category which is why it’s so *AMAZINGLY* commendable that the people behind Boom are pursuing this project.

    As for the questions posed, “hell yes” to finding a place with like minded folk. I suppose the difficulty for some would be determining what *really* defines them enough to choose the “_____ Home For Retired ______’s Who Enjoy _____ing, But Aren’t Into ____, So Keep That Shit Outta Here” option. What would be spectacular, regardless of specific identity/genre/group (or whatever we’re calling it), is ‘options’ as far as daily activities go. In many places, it’s something like “If you want to do anything today other than stare hopelessly out the window…bingo’s at three. Don’t like it? There’s the starin’ window”. I’d love a place with a plethora of activities, daily and nightly, for multiple interests with the option of just staying in in my private room. Things to look forward to each day, opportunity for interaction, and programs to stimulate the still working parts of the body and mind is what I want. “Old me” ain’t dead yet…I’ve got stuff to do, thoughts to express, and things to create, dammit!

  2. Ken Haslam Says:

    I am 76, a Polyamory activist, and looking for a place to retire. Have visited several Continuing Care Retirement Centers and, while luxurious, I found them a little boring, unless you like golf. Very straight. I have joked with my swinger — poly — BDSM friends for several years that I would love to retire, decline, and die among the GLBT, POLY, SWING, and BDSM folks who understand me and I understand them. All of us “alternative” folks will be moving into the Golden Years all too soon and where can we go in our senescence? To a community of folks just like us.

    Can you imagine: Nude swims every day; flogging 101 classes; Polyamory for those over 60; Wax play for beginners; Beginning Bondage; Understanding Impotance; and Advanced Outercourse and all accompanied by classes in nutrition, exercise, yoga, mental health, and music appreciation and art and photography classes. And maybe, for a very few, a small golf course if absolutely necessary ;-)

    What a delightful concept. Keep me posted. When can I visit?

  3. Meredith Yayanos Says:

    “One day, there will probably be a Burner/hippe retirement community, with dreadlocked 70-year-olds listening to psy-trance.”

    Gleeeee heee heee! Hopefully there will be “quiet camp” areas there, just like in Black Rock City. There’s only so much goa I can stand, no matter WHAT prescription or non-prescription drugs I may be taking.

    “I have joked with my swinger — poly — BDSM friends for several years that I would love to retire, decline, and die among the GLBT, POLY, SWING, and BDSM folks who understand me and I understand them.”

    Ken! How I wish that you didn’t have to joke about wanting that. It should, by this point in time, be a viable option for seniors. It’s fantastic to hear from you. Please keep US posted as you explore whatever alternative options you find yourself!

  4. Shay Says:

    I’m actually already a retired rivet. As a retiree I can say that being a grumpy old man in the corner is totally where I’m headed.

    Thanks for the share!

  5. Nadya Says:

    Blue Stahli, thank you so much for yoru comment. It’s awesome that you spend time with your grandpa and make sure that he’s not lonely. And Ken, your comment absolutely floored me. It’s wonderful to know how diverse our readership is. As Mer said… keep us posted on whatever options you end up exploring! This is something we may consider doing an article on for print, so definitely contact me at [email protected].

    Thank you, guys!

  6. Greg Says:

    I like the idea, well done!

  7. will Says:

    i love this concept…. i work in a snf/AL/IL community and though the buildings are posh and the landscaping is gorgeous…. it is still a “nursing home”
    i would like to say we take good care of everyone all the time, but it just doesn’t go that way …… bottom line is we like most industries are being micromanaged by so many levels of management that we feel overburdened with the details that basic kindness compassion empathy love & caring (the reason most of us are in this business) get squeezed out of the equation bit by bit…. i don’t know what it will take for the money to get out of healthcare but the sooner it becomes a universal right for all to get taken care of the better……it is our responsibility for us all to do so…. label it anyway you like :
    is it Gov’t.’s job? Society? Ours? We? Us? whatever…. somethings gotta give soon…. because as it is now in america and most countries with private healthcare, those with money get better quality care….. not great but better…
    will it ever change???