Skyler: An intergenerational skyscraper prototype for aging in cities

As someone who keeps an eye out for interesting aging and intergenerational initiatives, in the workplace and the community, Skyler grabbed my attention.

Designed by New York based architects, HOLLWICH KUSHNER, Skyler is a building prototype (i.e., work-in-progress) that enables users to age in one place, a “truly intergenerational skyscraper”. It’s social re-engineering of architecture. It takes aging-in-place to new heights.

Here’s the 2 minute promo video:

(Video not displaying? Watch it on Vimeo)

About Skyler

From the architects:

“The building (Skyler) encapsulates a cross section of society, where we can live fulfilling lives from birth to old age in one building that serves us all life long.

The building program consists of over 600 residential units for 1000 people of different typologies with tailored amenities placed throughout the building. Fifty kids below the age of five; 210 minors below the age of eighteen; roughly 500 working adults; and 150 seniors above sixty‐five. The building offers a mix of micro studios to maximize economy, pooled apartments that eliminate isolation, and duplexes that act as single family homes. It also incorporates special amenities like shared transportation to extend mobility and services to help facilitate laundry, grocery shopping, and school dropoffs.

It includes a business continuation center for the 65+ community, one that is hardly ready to retire, daycare centers for small children, an infirmary for the 0.5% in need of extra care, a health center where anyone from 20 to 90 can stay healthy and fit, and social activation that keeps inhabitants engaged their whole lives so that they can nurture an informal support system with neighbors, family, and friends.”

Skyler takes the challenges of aging and turns them into opportunities,” says architect Matthias Hollwich.

In this Monocle 24 radio clip, Hollwich elaborates further on the Skyler concept; on:

  • How Skyler intersects; schools, education , business centres, entrepreneurial centres, spiritual centres (especially for end-of-life), health centres (basically it’s taking a residential neighbourhood vertical, (reminds me of vertical farming)
  • Transitional spaces; the spaces between our different life modes
  • Social; social is the focus of Skyler – how can we shape and program a building to connect people?

The elderly don’t need to be segregated. They don’t need to be entertained. They do need connection.

Rethinking Urban and Aging

Skyler is definitely, out there, or rather, up there. Yet – why not? It’s an urban world. We need to rethink urban life, explore new ways to live together, and interact in constructive social ways.

I first heard about Skyler, via a CBC Radio broadcast of a (UK) Monocle 24 radio feature on How do we age in our cities? It’s the kind of program that I normally wouldn’t come across, unless that is, I was awake in the middle of the night. As I get older, I find it more challenging to pull off 8 hours of continuous sleep. A challenge is an opportunity.

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