Dirk Overduin

Dirk Overduin


A perspective on the architecture of International Retirement Migration

Vivir Juntos (Living Together) reflects on the architecture and urbanism that has come to dominate the coastal areas of Spain in recent decades. The purpose built developments (mainly urban sprawl) accommodate hundreds of thousands of International Retirement Migrants -IRM- who, seduced by sun, sea and Mediterranean life, have decided to take up permanent residence in the region.

The urban sprawl typology has failed in many areas. It is characterized by a lack of amenities and public services, high energy consumption and has had an irreparable impact on the land and its ecology. The quality of the properties are reported to be poor and social integration has been a failure. The absence of a social network gets problematic when people age and (informal) care becomes crucial to keep one's independence. It even results in forced relocation or remigration later in life. Therefore, social integration and the formation of social networks is crucial when it comes to the quality of living during the latter days.

In the coming decades, the population of Europe will rapidly grow older and IRM is expected to keep growing. Vivir Juntos aims to fuel the discussion about this phenomenon with new models of coexistence, as a catalyst for the change that is needed.  

The project focusses on Aspe (Alicante), a typical village currently under developer’s interest. The historic urban fabric is characterized by a serious number of vacant buildings and empty plots. The redevelopment of these plots and buildings is a unique opportunity for migrant retirees to live within the local community and develop a durable social network. At the same time it has a positive impact on the (now shared) physical environment and local economy.

This social strategy requires a specific spatial approach. There is no 'one size fits all' solution. Through three case studies which are representative for the local conditions, Vivir Juntos aims to prove the spatial quality and economic viability of this new model of coexistence. Living together.

Graduation committee: Gianni Cito (mentor), Jarrik Ouburg and Marta M Roy Torrecilla. Additional members for the exam: Jochem Heijmans and Winfried van Zeeland.

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