Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2022
‘As architects, we don’t normally design for people who are gradually growing and changing their lifestyle and really making that house their home.’Balkrishna Doshi, Interview Ahmedabad/Cardiff, 2019
Over the last three chapters, we have looked at different ways in which urban design shapes care practices and relations, and considered how it can do so for the good and in ways reflective of an ethics of care. In this chapter, I move on to consider how it can attend to the ways in which care needs evolve through time. As Sophia Bowlby (2012) puts it, taking a long- term view of care reveals how ‘our need for physical care varies through the lifecourse, from the physical dependence of the child to the physical competence of the adult, and the growing physical and sometimes mental dependence of people as they age’. As care needs change, of course, we can understand the practices that attend to them as also being in flux, continually changing. How they change, in turn, as I briefly discussed in Chapter 2, has implications for the spaces, infrastructures, technologies and materials that care practice enrols and requires in different circumstances and contexts. Here, I build on that discussion, asking about the strategies that urban design might develop in attending to the unfolding and transformation of needs for care over different stages of the lifecourse. Picking up on the quote above by the Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi, it asks about the forms of openness in urban design that might allow people to change their lifestyles within place.
Caring, time and materiality
My first step is to consider more closely at how needs unfold over the lifecourse. This may initially seem impossibly varied but, as Sophia Bowlby et al show (Bowlby et al, 2010), key patterns and themes can be detected. For a start, some needs for care are inescapable facts of life. All human beings begin life as helpless babies requiring care to meet their most basic needs. In turn, whatever course life has taken, declining capacity and increasing vulnerability also characterize the end of life in old age (Engster, 2007). While each person is different, these needs for care are, in essence, predictable and unavoidable. Other needs for care, however, can surface through more random events that pepper the course of life, such as emotionally traumatic experiences, accidents, exposures to toxins and illnesses.
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