Challenge #4: An Academy of Life
The aging of the population is a phenomenon that is faced not only by European countries, but globally. The consequences of improved living conditions are reflected in longer life expectancy and a falling number of births. These phenomena are synthetized in the aging of society.
Quite interesting is the fact that the aging of society is strongly biased in favor of women, leaving a question unanswered: how can one encourage more male retirees to participate in leisure and educational activities in the “third life period”?
The mismatch between ever-growing retirement expenses financed by an ever-smaller number of workers requires new social organization solutions. The challenge presented by the Fužine retirement home was to explore the ways in which our seniors with their rich life experience and knowledge can contribute to society.
Rethinking Retirement / Academy of Life is an ethnographic study conducted at two locations that trigger reflections on retirement and aging. The first location, at the Museum of Architecture and Design, challenges the viewer to question and rethink norms and preconceptions, and it serves as an informative and speculative entry into the subject. The second one, at the Fužine Retirement Home, is an introduction into one of the possible scenarios of retirement. Existing beyond the realm of speculation, the space of the retirement home presents visitors with various channels for direct and indirect engagement with the residents’ lives. The project opens up opportunities for intergenerational exchange and discovery of the knowledge and life experiences of the elderly.
Guendalina Ballerini (Italy) completed her MA at the Faculty of Architecture in Florence. She is currently working as a freelance architect, dealing with building design and construction phases.
Rebecca Carrai (Italy) completed her MA at the Faculty of Architecture in Florence. Currently working as a freelance architect, she is enrolled in the master’s course History and Critical Thinking at the AA School of London.
Natalia Skoczylas (Germany) is an event manager, freelance journalist, and political scientist, and is involved in the arts. She is currently working on several projects as a community manager and building a series of events discussing relations between arts and place in Berlin, that will compare lessons, challenges and hacks.
Pika Žvan (Slovenia) completed her MA in graphic engineering at the University of Ljubljana. She is a graphic designer for events and user experience, an interaction designer for interactive platforms and websites, and a project manager for research projects.
Elizaveta Strakhova (Russia) is a spatial practitioner. She has an MA in interior architecture from the Studio for Immediate Spaces at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. She experiments with formats of social gatherings and small-scale space-making as instant ways of critically responding to a variety of contexts and implementing and testing scenarios and structures for alternative development of landscapes.
Barbara Peterca (Slovenia) is an interior designer. She studied at the Faculty for Textile and Fashion Design in Ljubljana. As a fashion designer, she launched her own label, barbara, for handwoven products and then the label barbar for men’s underwear. Currently she has her own interior design studio and specializes in textile interior design.
Kathrina Dankl is a designer and researcher. After her training in industrial design, she completed a doctorate in design anthropology at the Vienna University of Applied Arts and has since combined teaching, research, and design practice. Studio Dankl sees design as a sociocultural investigation with a clear goal: a product, a service, and an intervention that makes the future debatable. Kathrina is currently an associate professor for welfare design at Denmark’s Kolding Design School; her studio work focuses on narrative, cultural heritage, and co-creating history.
Monika Šparl has been employed at the Fužine Retirement Home since 2007. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Arts, after which she received her current employment. In 2010, she created the strategy of the innovative day center project Fužine Activity Center (CAF)—a center for socializing and activities for the elderly—in cooperation with the Municipality of Ljubljana, and she became the manager of the center. She devotes special attention to recognizing the needs of members of the Fužine Activity Center.
Monika Vrhovnik Hribar holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Health Sciences. She is a senior consultant at the Fužine Retirement Home, where she is involved in occupational therapy. Her work and professional knowledge help residents learn daily activities, especially when they cannot independently perform self-care activities, such as learning how to use orthopedic aids. She is especially interested in dementia, and thus she also helped design and train staff in the home’s Concept for Working with Residents with Dementia.
Matija Puškarič received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Health Sciences. After completing his apprenticeship, he started working at the Fužine Retirement Home as an occupational therapist. His objective is to help residents quickly adapt to their new living environment and create a life in the home with the highest level of independence. With the help of his professional associates, he manages, plans, and organizes all activities, events, and projects. He is also engaged with various educational institutions, where he talks about occupational therapy, and he mentors trainees in occupational therapy.
The Fužine Activity Center (CAF) is a socializing and activity center for the elderly. The center began its work in 2010 as part of the Fužine Retirement Home in Ljubljana. In cooperation with the Municipality of Ljubljana, it promotes socializing and activities for the elderly. It enables retirees from nearby and more distant surroundings to become involved in various activities, socialize, and establish new social networks. It helps strengthen individuals’ power, develop a sense of belonging and usefulness, and develop mutual assistance. After people retire, it helps them overcome distress and feelings of uselessness and loneliness, which occur after termination of employment or after the loss of loved ones. The program is also intended for all those that want to take care of their mental and physical health through their own activity, and in this way contribute to a better quality of life and to enriching creative life power during retirement.