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Boom

An LGBT retirement community geared toward open living

by Evan Orensten in Design on 11 February 2011

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What began as an innovative project for LGBT retirees seeking refuge from cookie-cutter approaches to conventional retirement has evolved into something much more ambitious. More than 100 acres in the Mojave Desert will soon be the site of a $250 million idea, bringing together 10 architectural firms from five countries to succeed where so many fail by reclaiming shared community spaces that invite pedestrians and casual interactivity among neighbors.

Located near Palm Springs, California—an area known for perennial sunshine and wide-open spaces—Boom will cater to outdoor living with pedestrian pathways and communal spaces, as well as eateries, wellness centers and shops. Living spaces include private homes, assisted living and a nursing home. Each separate development will differ as the individual architects are being given free reign to realize their ideas of livability, adding diversity to the common goal of functionality and livability.

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The first phase envisions 300 homes, but that figure could eventually double after full build-out. To get in on the ground floor, you can request an invite from Boom's website.

Another exciting facet to the project is that the Boom community already exists in virtual space. Participants can brainstorm and create a shared vision with the developers and architects in these early stages when the buildings are still rendered lines in an AutoCAD program.

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Stateside, recruited architectural talent includes Diller Scotidio + Renfro (known for their Blur Building in Switzerland) who have proposed cast waves that oscillate with each dwelling's highest point, with its lower troughs serving as access points for lush greenery. Reinforcing the sense of community, not all of the effort is reserved for the luxurious homes. Arakawa + Gins, the firm behind Tokyo's Reversible Destiny Lofts, plan a "Healing Fun House" designed for all ages, a sort of playground for children and adults alike to recreate the body and mind.

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Ideas from abroad include Berlin-based J Mayer H Architects whose plans call for one- and two-story units with communal gardens. The Israeli duo L2 Tsionov-Vikton of Tel Aviv envision terraced roof gardens in modular dwellings designed to blend in with the desert environs.

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But the overarching idea is a space where denizens celebrate life with each other rather than retreat into isolation that so many other modern developments ultimately foster—as lead designer Matthias Hollwich from HWKN explained to his fellow architects, "Boom has to be about living, not retiring, about inclusion and not seclusion."

See more images in the gallery below.

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