Impact of local built environment attributes on the elderly sociability

four women using wheelie walkers are crossing the road in single file.This article focuses on the importance of social connectedness for older people and how this is essential for ongoing health and wellbeing. However, environments continue to be designed and built in ways that are often detrimental to older people being able to get out and about and socialise.

The research showed that the qualities of “safety”, “attractiveness” and “inclusiveness” respectively are the most influential factors on the sociability of older people. The results also determined that fear of injury is the most limiting factor in using urban spaces.

Download the article by H. Khosravi , F. Gharai, and Sh. Taghavi, in the International Journal of Architectural Engineering and Urban Planning.

Abstract: Due to the change of lifestyle and improvement of public health the number of aged people has considerably increased. Considering the relationship of the environment and people, the built environment features could exacerbate or facilitate the elderly people’s vulnerability and social needs. Recently, a large number of studies have put emphasis on the relationship between the neighborhoods’ open spaces attributes and seniors’ social needs. This study seeks to investigate the impact of the built environment indicators on the time the elderly spent in urban spaces of Banafsheh neighborhood in Mashhad. In order to do this, through a cross-sectional survey research, 33 indicators were collected from recent studies and categorized in seven main urban design qualities based on perceived and self-report data collected by questionnaire. A regression analysis revealed the impact of each quality on the sociability of the elderly. Results demonstrate that in this context, “safety” is the most effective factor on the elderly presence in open spaces. “Attractiveness” and “all age presence” are at the next points.

Intergenerational Shared Spaces in the UK context

book cover intergenerational spaceThis book chapter by Julie Melville and Alan Hatton-Yeo discusses how the generations are separated by life activities and dwelling places. However, interaction between generations, particularly younger and older people, is considered beneficial for individuals and society as a whole. The chapter discusses the benefits and includes the concern that the design of the built environment is not conducive to sharing spaces across the generations. The WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program, which is underpinned by universal design, is starting to take off in Europe and this is discussed further as a means of bringing the generations together.While this book is not specifically about universal design, it is about inclusive practice and social inclusion.

Download the chapter here

Or go Google Books for the full book, Intergenerational Space, edited by Robert M Vanderbeck and Nancy Worth.

See also a short documentary on young people and cyber seniors.

The Provision of Visitable Housing in Australia: Down to the detail

Article by Margaret Ward and Jill Franz, published in Housing and Space: Toward Socio-Spatial Inclusion (Social Inclusion, Vol 3 No2). An Open Access Journal.

This article outlines the findings from interviews with industry personnel about incorporating the 8 features agreed in the Livable Housing Design Guidelines. This is a telling paragraph:
“In summary, when providing the eight features for visitability, the interviewees identified two themes for non-compliance (“lack of thought” and “otherness”) and three themes for compliance (“fashion”, “requirement’ and “good practice”). Although all dwellings provided some features, no dwelling provided a coherent path of travel necessary to make a dwelling visitable. Some examples of this incoherence were: a step-free driveway which led to a step at the door; a wide front door which led to a narrow corridor; and a narrow internal doorway which did not allow entry of a wheel-chair to a spacious bathroom. The provision of these access features separately and severally did not provide visitability as an outcome in any of the dwellings.

You can download the full issue of the publication here

Accessible Design in Australia

Accessible Design in Australia 1999 front coverThis document was produced as a result of a group of passionate people who believed it was important to have a centre for accessible design. They consulted widely and held two symposia, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. The document sought further comment, particularly from people with disability. For various reasons, the project ended at this point and no further action was taken. However, soon afterwards a small group, led by Dr Max Murray, started the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia (ACAA). Centre for Universal Design Australia has picked up the threads to follow through on the aim of having a central point for creating an inclusive Australia. Download the 1999 discussion paper in PDF: Accessible Design in Australia: A national approach for an integrated future.

Norway universally designed by 2025 – Update

Top half of the front cover of the plan. The graphic is various shades of blue with a woman operating an automatic teller machineThe Norwegian Government has taken the principles of universal design and applied them across all policies to create maximum inclusion. This makes everyone responsible for inclusion at every level – in the built environment, outdoor areas, transport, and ICT. In 2008, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, launched its first Action Plan 2009-2013, which sets the goal of Norway being universally designed by 2025. In 2010, Norway amended its Planning and Building Act to include universal Picture of the front cover of the Norwegian Action Plandesign. In 2016, The Delta Centre was given responsibility, and funding, to coordinate the actions in the 2015-2019 plan. This plan is more comprehensive and covers ICT and communications to a more detailed level. This is in recognition of how we are becoming more reliant on digital applications.

Getting in the door: the public interest in the design of private housing

It’s in everyone’s interest to have our homes accessible for everyone no matter their age or circumstances. But the private housing market isn’t coming to the party. Margaret Ward challenges popular assumptions about how accessible housing will be achieved using the evidence from her PhD study on the private housing market. In the inaugural Robert Jones Memorial Oration in Brisbane in 2014, Margaret recounts the life of Robert Jones and his dream to make public spaces and places accessible to everyone. She also uses the experiences of her father and daughter to illustrate the importance of living at home until your last days. 

“It takes many things for people to remain at home. Australians have agreed that it is in the public interest that people receive reasonable and necessary supports and affordable medical services to keep participating and contributing in community. There is no equivalent public interest in the design of their housing.

Download the Word version: Margaret Ward Robert Jones Memorial Lecture 2014

Barriers to Universal Design in Australian Housing

IMGP0308 20percentFrom the Editor: I prepared a 2000 word version of my PhD thesis which is worth another look given the proposed changes to the National Construction Code for housing. Basically, my question was, why we are still building and designing homes as if none of us is ever going to grow old? The simple answer is that the industry runs on regulations to hold the house building system together, so nothing will change without regulations. Read the paper to find out more about the complexities of the house building industry and why there is resistance to change from both builders and purchasers. You can also download the accompanying slide show from the 2011 FICCDAT conference.

Jane Bringolf

(FICCDAT is, Festival of International Conferences on Caring, Disability, Aging and Technology.)