The SmartHub is to facilitate intergenerational enrichment through a social media hub and a building environment to match those interactions
The concept of The SmartHub is about generations who work and leisure together, learn from each other, share life wisdoms, make new relationships and maintain these. The SmartHub brings people together from different generations in activities that can be started by the same people. For instance, If they want to give a lecture about their hobby or profession to a live audience or work in multigenerational teams on an assignment, the Smarthub provides a platform. People are brought together for all kinds of activities, the environment where this happens is very important.
The concept of The SmartHub is to facilitate intergenerational enrichment through a social media hub inextricably linked to a purposely designed building environment to match those interactions.
In newspaper articles and on television a lot of attention is given to people, especially elderly, who are lonely and disconnected from society. People get born, and from that moment on a rich period of attention, being with people and building relationships starts. People get educated, have hobbies, start relations, a family, start their working lives, always surrounded by people, friends, family and colleges. After many joyful years the moment of retirement is there (figure 1). Retired people are experts in life, have experience in education, working together, maintain friendships, are life wise and they can reflect on their life to benefit others. These treasures of experiences and qualities could be a source of inspiration for younger generations. On the other hand, loneliness could emerge. Loneliness is a social problem; lonely people are disconnected from society. Missing company or interacting socially can influence their health and the social cohesion between generations. Research on different generations is conducted because It’s important to know more about these groups. What are their treasures, why are many elderlies disconnected from society? How can architecture contribute to reconnect people to society?
To bring different generations together a special environment is needed. This environment is an inspirational place to stimulate interactivity by working together, communicating and sharing knowledge between generations. Relationships are built, maintained and knowledge is shared between generations that learn from each other by participating in each other’s lives. Figure 2 is a schematic display of the concept, sharing between generations makes them aware, when young generations are more life wise they share their experiences with new younger generations, this is the wheel of sharing generations.
Most projects with mixed generations are about living together. Students and elderly live together in partly vacant elderly homes. Students live in vacant apartments for free, in return they have to spend time with the elder neighbors and help where they can. Other projects are about multigenerational living communities. In these community’s generations benefit from each other, every generation are in a part of life where they contribute to other generations. The SmartHub is a new multigenerational condenser, active seniors contribute, work and learn together with younger generations. Where other initiatives are about multigenerational living together the activities seem random. The main benefit of this concept is the new relations that are build between different people with mutual interests in an environment that facilitates this interaction.
This concept is based on 3 pillars: ‘(social) media technology’, ‘built environment’ and ‘the organization’.
First pillar: (social) media technology
Software, as in a website and database (www.TheSmartBase.nl), let The SmartHub gather information on each individual in order to connect these people by work experience, interests, talents, hobbies and life lessons. The website is a portal that enables social enrichment. The portal is a collector of talents and needs, it’s an organizer of activities and an inviter to reach out to people who can participate in activities to be socially active and make new friends in a mutual activity and stimulating environment.
Second pillar: built environment
Hardware, the building (www.TheSmartHub.nl) is set in an inspirational urban environment. Architecture plays a key role in the transition between existing buildings. The concept is also reflected on the building itself: an old historical building will be used in a new way as it original was designed for. In this project hardware (the building) will be the physical meeting point for individuals to team up in a variety of activities. Activities can be divided in 2 different branches, hobbies and work/business related activities. The possibilities of the different activities are as variable as there are people. The power of this concept is individual people in a social hub linked to a specific built environment, to know who they are and what their interests are in their lives, what they did in their working life and hobbies and what they want to do.
Third pillar: the organization
Orgware, the organization of The SmartHub. The concept works in different ways, activities can be brought in by members of The SmartHub, by a municipality or company who wants to set up an activity to research a new concept, The SmartHub can also setup its own activities. All these activities can be brought to attention to the enlisted by newsletters, personal message through other social media and by publishing on the website. When a member of The SmartHub enlists for a certain activity an invitation will follow to come as an individual, team up and leave after a day or period with a happy experience and new relations or even new friends. New relationships are easier to build and maintained because members share the same interests for an activity, this lowers certain thresholds to make contact easier.
Facilitating interaction versus facilitating results
The architectural themes of The SmartHub are derived from the activities. In general, let the different people of all kind of generations take part in all kind of activities together and facilitate these activities by using architectural themes. By defining all activities I assign them to three architectural themes: Open, Introvert and Extrovert.
Open: The forum
The forum is the central meeting point it’s placed around the central staircase and connects the ground, first and second floor by a staircase. This open forum doesn’t have a clear activity only then a central meeting point for the users of The SmartHub. In rare occasions the central forum can be used as a special space for activities, different levels can be combined.
Introvert: Inner based activities
These spaces are closed, closed by walls, windows and doors. These Introvert spaces are mainly placed on the first floor. The concept of openness is still in place, these spaces are closed but with lots of translucency through materials such as glass. The introverted activities are closed for active interaction between different users of the SmartHub but the visual interaction contributes to the field of tension.
Extrovert: Outer based activities
These spaces are open, doesn’t have clear boarders or walls and are open for public. Extroverted activities stimulate for open interaction and involvement and include people.
These three architectural themes facilitate all activities and the way interaction can be achieved.