Design for well-being in older people’s residential environments - Sustainable Design in Finland and Sweden
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Good design in residential areas promotes socially sustainable neighborhoods, the well being of the residents and the notion of “aging in
place”. Stimulating environment engages residents to their neighborhood and encourages communication. Beneficial spatial design helps
in way finding and increases the sense of security.
This paper focuses on the common spaces in residential environments for elderly. User-centric, residential environments that promote
social and physical accessibility can be attained by means of spatial planning, acoustics and lightning as well as other architectural means.
With aging the living environment becomes smaller and elderly spend lot of their time indoors. Elderly prefer to live in their own homes
but at the same time they feel more isolated. New residential buildings have to be designed to extend the individual apartments to the
common space and to facilitate social interactions. Common spaces also need to be useful for different kinds of activities in a short-time
as well as in a long-time perspective.
Finnish and Swedish housing projects for elderly are studied. The design and use of common multipurpose spaces are analyzed through
architectural plans, usability walk-through methods, observation of activities and use of spaces, and interviews with users.
The study brings together Swedish and Finnish knowledge to support the design of the residential buildings for the elderly. The project will
contribute to evidence-based knowledge concerning the common spaces in residential environments for elderly. The study findings should
feed into policy on housing for older people which could enhance sustainability and the quality of living environments of this important
section of our population.