DIAGNOSE! Interview with

#9 – Deane Simpson

By: Kriti Garg & David Bauer

DIAGNOSE! Interview Series

Published on December 2, 2020

Prof. Deane Simpson // Institute of Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape, Royal Danish Academy

Ageing – something we all do, but nobody really wants to talk about. With a population’s average median age at 47 years, Germany is currently one of the oldest countries in the world. So it is more than high time that we talk about “Infrastructures in the Age of Aging” - extensively. We are very happy to be joined by one of the leading experts on Societal Change and Urban Design: Prof. Deane Simpson from the Royal Danish Academy.

The 1960s baby boomers are reaching the age of retirement in the next few years and with higher wealth and longer life expectancy thanks to better living conditions and medical expertise, we are entering the age of ageing, where our future could very well be defined by a retiree nation. Currently, Germany has more than 21 million retirees (which is a quarter of the overall population over the age of 65 years). In 2050, this figure is expected to rise to more than a third: Aging will affect our future more than most of us might think. The question is how: let’s speculate.

Deane has worked extensively on the phenomenon of an ageing society - and it’s spatial transformations. Entire societies ageing is a fairly new phenomenon in the history of humankind. In Germany, we are confronted in near future not only with Climate Change, Industry 4.0 but also with an army of millions of retirees. Is this a grim perspective or is there also something positive to look forward to?

In this interview, we dig deeper into the topic of demographic shifts, and in particular of the new age dynamics that emerge from an ever-growing age cohort called the ‘young-old’. Together with Deane Simpson, we talk about market and non-market drivers that are defining new logics of urbanity and have drastic spatial and societal implications and new forms of care infrastructures that go beyond a top-down welfare state structure or the institutional service of retirement homes. We discuss the importance of intergenerational solidarity along with many more topics on how designers and planners must understand, integrate but also question these new logics in order to create new paradigms for our futures where we avoid further social alienation between generations and an ever-growing bifurcation of youthful urban cores and ageing peri-urban regions.

Length:  47:05 min


[00:03:02] A grim perspective for our future?
[00:05:06] Young-old and old-old 

Age and infrastructure // Ageing Infrastructure

[00:11:28] Infrastructures role in ageing societies
[00:18:51] Care as a form of infrastructure within the city
[00:23:10] New roles and relationships emerging through an ageing society
[00:30:13] The new logics ageing

Heterotopias and new logics of age

[00:37:13] Emerging heterotopias // community at the expense of society?
[00:41:23] Where to invest in for our future?
[00:47:17] Rethinking housing infrastructure

Future speculations and planning strategies

[00:51:43] Strategies for new typologies
[00:59:57] How can we start today and what must we tackle first?
[01:05:20] How do we break down old and unsustainable paradigms? 
[01:13:44] Create intergenerational allies
[01:16:36] Attractors to stay closer together
[01:20:12] What can urbanism learn from retirement villages?
[01:26:53] ‘slow and painful’: How can infrastructure change the notion of ageing?
[01:30:27] Digital infrastructures & new mobility for inter-generational solidarity?



[EN]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 was initiated by the Habitat Unit in cooperation with Projekte International and provides an open stage and platform for multiple contributions of departments and students of the Technical University Berlin and beyond. The project is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

[DE]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 wurde initiiert von der Habitat Unit in Kooperation mit Projekte International und bietet eine offene Plattform für Beiträge von Fachgebieten und Studierenden der Technischen Universität Berlin und darüberhinaus. Das Projekt wird von der Robert Bosch Stiftung gefördert.

Organized by:


In cooperation with: