Co-designing Age-friendly Cities And Communities: Towards an Age-friendly Spatial Practice

Publications: Book / Anthology / Thesis / ReportPh.D. thesis

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This thesis inscribes itself in the discourse of developing Age-friendly Cities and Communities (AFCCs) from an architectural and a co-design perspective. Our society is changing, and two major societal forces are at the forefront: a rapidly ageing population and increasing urbanisation. This means that cities and communities are required to meet the needs and demands of this growing, heterogeneous and diverse ageing population. Architecture and design are important actors in this development; however, they are often not at the forefront of the discussion, which is mostly driven by health, social science and political perspectives. Hence, the objective of this study is to present a co-design and an architectural approach to the issue of AFCCs through an investigation of how an age- friendly co-design approach and spatial explorations can contribute to an age-friendly spatial practice when understanding and developing AFCCs. Further, this thesis seeks to explore the role of the architect in an age-friendly spatial practice.

Through exploratory, practice-based and participatory design research the study places emphasis on the process of understanding and co-designing AFCCs with older people of low socio-economic status living in deprived areas. Four empirical studies have been carried out and will be presented in three separate articles. The first article focuses on the ‘go-along interview’ as a method of involving older people in understanding their local neighbourhood in Copenhagen. The second article presents two co-design processes carried out in Copenhagen and discusses what makes the co-design process particularly age-friendly. The third article presents a co-design process carried out with older people and local municipal stakeholders in Greenland and focuses on the various stakeholder perspectives in such a process. The thesis offers practical and theoretical perspectives on how to engage older people in the development of AFCCs when working locally while at the same time addressing societal matters.

The empirical studies have been carried out in an interdisciplinary research constellation which spans across the fields of architecture, co-design, gerontology and anthropology. This is reflected in the theoretical positioning, where perspectives from environmental gerontology, co-design and spatial practice serve as lenses for discussing the empirical data and the research objective. Topics across the fields include the spatialities of ageing, everyday life and spatial practices as well as resources, expertise and creativity with older people at the centre of these discussions.

This PhD thesis defines what can be understood as age-friendly spatial practice and demonstrates how older people and other actors can be involved in co-designing age- friendly spaces as well as exploring the spatial dimensions of AFCCs. The thesis discusses the significance of such collaborations and how they can contribute to updating and revising the image of ageing (internally and externally). It further discusses the role of the architect in an age-friendly spatial practice, which includes situating the profession in the everyday life of the older people and collaborating with seniors, practice stakeholders and different disciplines through socio-spatial, creative and exploratory working modes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages221
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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