Attachment by design

A row of villa units with palm trees around.Attachment to home is a complex concept. For older people it is often interpreted as a place holding memories and providing security and peace of mind. Consequently, attachment to home is usually cited as the reason older people are not keen to move. However, it could be because there aren’t any better places to move to, and that includes retirement villages. The design of the dwelling might be more important than the “resort-style” features in the glossy sales brochures. And that comes down to the details of the design.

Residents in a retirement village were the subject of a recent study to find out what would help them become more attached to the place they might move to or live in. That is, what design features would make them feel happy. Functionality of the space turned out to be key – not the latest fashions. This excerpt from the abstract shows that:

“…having an open/semi-open layout of internal space, large windows and plenty of sunlight, accessible large closet and storage space, shared/public green space and accessible and age-friendly design of entry, bathroom and kitchen area are features most participants found to be important in raising their sense of attachment to where they live”.

While this study was not on a broad scale, it does indicate that these features, which would be attractive to any age, aren’t just needed in retirement villages. If we had mainstream homes with these features then perhaps more older people would “rightsize” to a new home.

The title of the thesis from New Zealand is, The Role of Architectural Design in Enhancing Place Attachment for Older Adults in Retirement Communities, by Masoumeh Shiran.


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