This project is still just a dream, but it could be a perfect way to make senior living affordable and give residents purpose.
I recently came across an article in of all places Modern Farmer about an architectural firm based in Singapore that has created a conceptual design for a senior living community that includes a serious organic farming component. Because I am always on the lookout for ways senior communities can create opportunities for residents to continue to have significant purpose in their lives I went digging for more information.
A couple of emails later I was on a Skype call to the Singapore office of the global architectural firm SPARK. (All Images courtesy of SPARK.)
Singapore Senior Living
Singapore is an island nation in East Asia off the tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is almost all urban, which makes housing scarce and expensive. According to SPARK, housing is so expensive that the government ends up providing various housing subsidies for about 85% of all residents. In addition, they have essentially no agriculture with 90% of all food stuffs being imported. Finally, they have an older population that is aging faster than the rest of the world and they are experiencing a rapid shift away from intergenerational households.
There are nursing homes in Singapore but apparently no assisted living and little in the way of senior apartments.
The proposed project contain 300 units with several housing type that would range from small apartments for one or two people to larger multigenerational options. There would be smaller units for singles or couples and larger units that would allow multiple generations to live together. The total projected occupancy would be around 1,000. The target would be age 55+. There is also a much more detailed article about the project at Archdaily.com.
A key element of the community is a simple aquaponic farming system for growing edible plants and growing Tilapia fish. They expect this one community to be able to generate 30 tons of food each month, most of which would be sold in Singapore. The proceeds from the farming operation could then be used by the seniors to offset their housing costs.
Why Not Here?
As great as it is, senior living faces three big hurdles:
- It is prohibitively expensive for many seniors and this will become a bigger problem as the Boomers age.
- Too much of the life enrichment programs in senior living are about entertainment and not about creating purpose. This sends a subtle message to residents to get on with the process of aging and dying.
- There are many seniors that are just plain saying NO to senior living because it often does represent the beginning of a rapid downhill slide.
I can envision an assisted living or multi-level care community that embraces an aquaponic farm that seniors could afford and would create real purpose and substance.
What do you think?