City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

14 Cities: New Sunshine

Written in



Part of the 14 Cities series:

"By 2045, the Sunshine Coast had effectively become a single urban conurbation stretching from Caloundra to Cooloola, eventually known as New Sunshine. Coordinated and governed by the New Sunshine City Council, the average age of the city is 72 and rising, lending the place a special atmosphere, form and series of functions.

The ongoing surge of retirees means the new city is a living showcase of the ‘demographic timebomb’. Yet this has been re-cast as an advantage, an idealised community for Australia’s elderly, an urban paradise for the superannuated. The council retrofitted a richly diverse urban form, characterised by fitness for two things: local climate, and old age.

As the number of Australian with dementia had tripled between 2009 and 2050, part of this design is ‘soft infrastructure’ — for instance, living rooms have responsive photo-frames that reinforce the identity of close family via shared ambient presence.

Yet the wisdom of these senior citizens is also harnessed, via numerous on-demand consultancies run from shared work-centres. Transit is by rubberised PRT pods and slow-moving light-rail that leans towards the wide, non-slip pavements. Gradients are non-existant. New Sunshine’s street-signs are in large print and audio. Golf is played through the streets on Sundays, while the club scene is justly infamous."

Notes: This one could get me into trouble, though I hope no offence is taken. This is an example of where I was trying to retain tongue-in-cheek with making a serious point – what would it mean to expressly design a city for the ageing population that most 'western' nations are heading towards? And what would happen in that city, in terms of business, transit, or even nightlife? The idea of the 'sea change' or 'tree change' is a frequent motif of the Australian media, as is the so-called 'demographic timebomb'; the stat on dementia is an actual projection, if I recall correctly.


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