How do we design cities for the third age?

seniors-third-ageCatherine Carter is the ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia and writes in this article that not all older people want a sea-change or tree-change and that we should be paying more attention to making our cities more age-friendly. However, the focus is still on the segregation model – retirement villages.  She says we should, “picture a retirement village, not on the edge of the city, but in the centre. Imagine that place has cafes and culture on the doorstep, as well as daily domestic, medical and nursing services on hand, front desk staff to screen visitors, a resident handyman on call when a light blows, and an IT expert to help with the troublesome WiFi. It’s easy to see why older people would love this lifestyle.”



Why UD is not just access

Xinos Normals imageGeorge Xinos continues his UD theme in this article in Sourceable. He gives a potted history of UD, lists the seven principles and then argues, as do many, that the building industry has chosen to interpret UD as compliance with accessibility regulations and not taken up the design challenge of inclusion in a broader sense. The image chosen in this article is from the video published by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland, called “Meet The Normals – Adventures in Universal Design“.


Old People Everywhere – is it a problem?

seniors sourceableThis article in Sourceable by Steve Hansen covers all the arguments being posed at the moment about the housing preferences of older people. He argues that ghettos are not the way of the future and talks of “co-housing” as one solution. Location and walkable communities also get a mention. However, from an Australian perspective it seems the property and housing industry doesn’t want to know about consumer preferences and is still doing the same old thing – retirement villages. Industry resistance to changing the cookie cutter to include universal design features in all new dwellings remains strong. But without these features, ageing in place (and all over the place) becomes more problematic.


Designs for older people falling behind

Design-architecture-planning-vision-591x350This magazine article from Australian Ageing Agenda outlines three our-dated assumptions about dwelling designs and locations for older people.

Assumptions are: 1. All retirees have similar housing needs; 2. people over the age of 65 want to live in designated precincts; and 3. only young people want to live in apartments.

Although this is not new news to many in the design world, it seems property developers are still encouraging village style developments. This may be because of profit motives rather than liveability preferences of older people.  Or it could be because local council staff still think of ageing issues from the perspective of care.

The article was written by Robert Goodliffe.


Accessible Exit Signs – new designs

accessible-exit-sign-project-exit-signEgress signage is evolving.  The introduction of the ‘Accessible Means of Egress Icon’, or ‘Wheelie Man’ onto accessible exit signage changes the current discriminatory approach to exit signs in buildings and presents a fully inclusive universal design. The figures in the icons move in unison. They display the same urgency and motion. They appear to be travelling at the same speed. This is an inclusive design. Find out more about the project at the following links:

Accessible Exit Signs Project

Accessible means of egress icon in the press

Signage project – Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES)

Accessible Exit Signs – Interactive Accessibility website


Senior Playgrounds and Universal Design

Cover-Image_Senior-PlaygroundsIn this item from Sourceble by Lee Wilson, the outdoor gym is described as a playground. He states, “This is something we really ought to be planning for in new housing estates and developments, with suitable outdoor spaces that promote social interaction, exercise and enjoyment for people in their later stages of their lives.”  He goes on to list factors to consider for “seniors playgrounds”.


Brothels: Weighing Disability Access, Dignity and Safety

No-Disabled-Access-Brothel-StairsThis article discusses the movement for equal access to sex workers, and gives some basic tips for designing brothels for access by people with disability. The point is made that both sex workers and people with disability are marginalised when it comes to relationships. The film “The Sessions” based on a true story and starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt was a breakthrough in changing attitudes about people with disabilities engaging in sexual activity.
With the roll out of the NDIS, it is likely that more brothels will need to make themselves accessible. The article has links to other online references.