If co-living appeals to Generation Y, why wouldn't it appeal to senior citizens who grant just as much importance to a sociable lifestyle as millennials do?

The success of co-living is built on gradients of publicness. From private, through semi-private and semi-public, all the way to public, co-living complexes strike a balance between individual and communal spaces.

It comes as no surprise that this community-driven concept appeals to millennials who seek a more sociable lifestyle. But co-living complexes like WeLive or The Collective aren't just for Generation Y –  they could also be fit for the baby boomers, according to architect and Architizer co-founder Matthias Hollwich.

I believe we have to start a whole new attitude to how we treat society in relationship to ageing

The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2050 and for the first time in history, the number of people aged 65 and over will outnumber children aged five and under. So why are we not catering to a generation with interests, much like those of millennials, that revolve around a genuine sense of community, experiences and safety?

Communal dining at WeLive New Yok
WeLive communal dining in New York. Photo by Lauren Kallen/WeWork

Cohousing for older people is now a well-established concept in its countries of origin, i.e. Denmark and The Netherlands, where the seemingly contradictory ‘Living together on one’s own’ maxim of the Dutch National Association of Housing Communities for Elderly People (LVGO) seems to capture the essence of co-living perfectly.

Usually purpose-built, cohousing complexes consist of private homes with shared facilities and according to the UK Cohousing Network, there are 200 senior cohousing schemes in the Netherlands alone.

Coliving residence for the elderly
BOOM Costa del Sol: retirement community featuring 115 boutique homes

The cohousing phenomenon is now spreading across the rest of Europe, with developments such as BOOM Costa del Sol sitting on a dramatic hillside 45km outside of Malaga, Spain.

BOOM is a retirement community that features 72 homes, 24 lofts, and 38 apartments, each designed by a different world renowned architect. The pedestrian-friendly masterplan is the brainchild of BOOM design coordinator Matthias Hollwich of HWKN and was co-developed by Seram Estates, S.L.

Cohousing community in the UK
UK's first over 50s co-living complex in High Barnet, North London

The first one to successfully import the 'cohousing for the elderly' model to the UK is Pollard Thomas Edwards who recently completed the UK's first over 50s coliving development. Older Women's Co-Housing (OWCH) is a women-only complex that offers its residents the chance to live independently while still living in a shared community.

The scheme is mostly owner-occupied although one third consists of social housing. The women share a common house with a meeting room, kitchen and dining areas, and every flat has access to the shared garden and craft shed, to be maintained by residents themselves.

WeLive in New York
Apartment in WeLive, 110 Wall Street, New York

The growing number of senior cohousing developments is nothing but proof that the older generation displays the same youthful enthusiasm for community that millennials do.

Boomers do not want to grow old in the same ageing institutions their parents did. They want innovation and perhaps it is time developers tapped into the senior cohousing market, bound to boom in the near future.

Made in Bulgaria, raised in Morocco, "matured" in the UK, Elissaveta is our Editor-in-Chief. Her career started in the field of architecture and design where she developed a talent for creative thinking and an eye for aesthetics. In 2014, she found her calling in design journalism and now has over three years’ experience in writing about design & architecture.