Volume 29: The Urban Conspiracy

The Urban Conspiracy
Jeffrey Inaba

A covert organization has been plotting to take over mankind. The number involved is not entirely known, but estimates are in the millions. They are present throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and with the greatest concentration in Europe. They are typically in their 60s, 70s, and 80s and claim to be ‘retired’, ‘part-time volunteers’, or ‘mostly spending time with grandchildren’.

Having been raised in the aftermath of the Second World War and coming of age during the paranoia of the Cold War, these so-called senior citizens reacted to the treacherous battles for power by banding together behind a mission that is only now beginning to surface. The anguish of growing up amid political upheaval motivated them to form a world where discord ceases to exist. The immediate experience of seeing extensively damaged urban areas led this group of seniors to work through back door channels to try to make cities places of harmony. Their efforts are visible today in the form of parks, plazas, waterfronts, sustainable greenbelts, reclaimed infrastructure, farmers markets, bike paths, streetscapes, and communal gardens.

Who would have thought that this band of elderly – part of an age group often believed to be checked out and removed from decision-making processes – is trying to shape cities? It is no coincidence that we are experiencing an aging society at the same time as we are seeing an abundance of well-groomed parks. Reports suggest the graying confederates have been waiting for this moment to make one final overwhelming push. They are using their advanced appearances to appeal for public spaces that benefit the elderly so as to bring them closer to their ultimate objective of assuring the abundant proliferation of friendlier urban environments. This population of seniors is regarded by some political leaders as ‘the greediest generation’, hell-bent on bankrupting the developed world’s social safety nets. But in actuality they have been posturing as self-centered Baby Boomers to conceal their efforts toward an unselfish social end. It has become clear that their counterculture rebellion as youths was a test to see if they could operate together in large numbers in the name of a single cause. (Cleverly, they espoused a rhetoric of individualism to mask their true power in multitude.)

It is likely that their frenetic consumerism later in life was also a smokescreen. They were plagued with an anxiety that more things would be destroyed and taken away – a feeling that stemmed from the profound trauma they experienced as youths. This anxiety was first manifest in an unresolved desire to acquire consumer goods, but over time, this generation realized that hiding behind an aura of self-absorbed spending helped to divert unwanted attention from their humanistic intentions. Several observers indeed believe the expressed interest by some elderly in current popular notions of growing old is parallel in motive; Aging in Place, Age-Friendly Cities, Multi-generational Living, Active Aging, Longevity, Life Course, Third Age, etc, serve as elaborate alibi that further cover their tracks as they develop urban land for general public benefit.

The Urban Conspiracy (which has yet to be disproved) reveals that seniors are not a passive segment of society that lacks agency. It also suggests that inasmuch as many are motivated to remain vital and engaged, they aren’t entirely sold on Baby Boomer values of personal fulfillment. As the following events already indicate, they have taken sweeping actions in the interest of the public far beyond anyone’s expectation, let alone suspicion.


The Urban Conspiracy
Jeffrey Inaba


First the World, Then the City

What Did We Miss?


Blind Spots
Linda Fried

Sleeper Cells


First Europe, Then the World

The Artisan Architect
Leon Krier

Lifelong Cities
John Beard

Old Europe
Anne-Sophie Parent

Request for Proposals (RFP) Architectural and Planning Services For China’s Growing Senior Population

Maturing Markets
Rebecca L.H. Chiu


Grand Tour

Putting It All on the Table
Alan Simpson

Shock of Gray
Ted C. Fishman

Photographs and Cover
Naho Kubota

Boomer Hospitality
Andrew Carle

Deep Slice Urbanism
Deane Simpson

Francesco Bonami

In Defense of the Indefinite
Aubrey de Grey

How Old is Old?

Trust Design 3: Faith Is Trust

From Granny Flat to Twixter Pad
Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld

A Stepping Stone for the Future
Yoko Ono


Empathy and Interface
Paola Antonelli

On the Edges of Aging
Rama Gheerawo and Sean Donahue

Political Questions
Michael Graves

Warm Atmosphere
Junya Ishigami

Staging the Environment: Design for Dementia
Gesine Marquardt

Resilience and Stewardship


Life Course Planning

Chengdu Crescent

To Resettle, to Remember, and to Learn from a Millennium
Tsukamoto Laboratory

Afterlife Strategies: The Other Post-Oil City
Felipe Correa

We Can’t Save You, but We Can Make You More Comfortable: Aging and Humanitarian Space
Benedict Clouette and Marlisa Wise

Aging Considered as Transformation
Lebbeus Woods






















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