"Perhaps our homes could care for us, come to our rescue, or even love us?" that question posed by Rachel Armstrong got me thinking about my design work and how homes for seniors are designed. Ms. Armstrong's wonderful Amazon Single, Living Architecture is actually discussing creating buildings from organic living materials. She writes this in the wake of the Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis in 2011. This tragedy greatly illustrates how fragile life on our planet can be and how the architecture and technology we currently have cannot adapt to such a crisis like a tree or mountain would adapt. It's doubtful that I will see Rachel's Armstrong's vision of protocells turning into buildings in my lifetime but I am excited to see the ideas that she is generating for a better future. If you have ever seen the adorable Pixar Movie Up, you can see how a senior citizen put his home to work to take care of him. Seventy-eight year old Carl, ties thousands of balloons to his home, he attaches a ship's wheel to his fireplace mantle and he sets out on a wild adventure to see the world. Carl's home is a lovely little Victorian equipped with a stair lift that "eeeks" him down the stairs. Something about the way Carl equipped his home in his later years was completely empowering to me. Poor Carl was being threatened by the construction of sky rise buildings on all sides of him and contractor's trying to persuade him to tear down his house and move to a senior's home. We can understand Carl's perspective of how devastated he would be to lose the home that is filled with wonderful memories of his beloved wife. Many seniors feel the same way as Carl at the prospect of leaving their home. In this fabulous animated fantasy our hero, Carl made his home Take Care of him, Rescue Him, and Love Him. You can learn more about the movie Up on Pixar's Website. So within our lifetime, using the tools and technologies we have at our disposal, sprinkled with imagination and a little pixie dust, what can we do make our homes "take care for us, come to our rescue, or even love us?"
How Can Your Home TAKE CARE of YOU?
ACCESSIBILITY - Accessibility to our home from the front or back so we can move easily in or out of our homes. Elevators and stair lifts can be installed in your home to take care that you can move up and down the floors of your home.
FURNISHINGS - Furnishings that are designed for both comfort and mobility and by the proper placement of those furnishings so we can navigate easily through the space.
BATHROOMS - that make it easy, safe, and convenient to use the toilet, tub, and shower. Through well planned design and the latest advances in plumbing, our bathtub walls can open and allow us to slide into a warm bath. Our toilets can raise and lower and even clean us.
KITCHENS - that allow us to prepare meals for ourselves and our families easily. Cabinets that can lower and allow a wheelchair bound individual to reach a dinner plate and rise back for those standing.
How Can Your Home RESCUE YOU?
TECHNOLOGY - We have the technology today to create smart homes that could potentially rescue you. Today's technology can place sensors on the floor or the toilet that would alert emergency services if we have fallen or need help.
How Can Your Home LOVE YOU?
ADVENTURE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS - We can bring a world of adventure right into our living room through technology without the balloon's tied to our home.
PUSH-BUTTON CLEANING - We can install robot vacuum cleaners that clean our home that run on their own. Just like our hero Carl learned, when he meets a talking dog named Doug and an overly helpful Scout named Russell, people and pets are more loving than a house. We still cannot create a home that would love you the way a family member or an adored pet can love you. Whether we are designing for the next natural disaster or the gentle aging of each of us, we must think about how our homes can "care for us, come to our rescue, or even love us"