A day in the life of vulnerable elderly: human centered research and architectural answers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientific


This conference paper addresses the very topical theme ‘housing the growing numbers of elderly’, especially the ones who need care. It reports on our idea to combine anthropological research methods with architectural design processes and will elaborate on the research method as a new approach in student masterclasses. To understand the needs of the elderly the focus lies on the everyday life of elderly in care centers, independent houses, and in neighborhoods settings. Aim is to understand, document and visualize the needs and living conditions of elderly today, as well as translate fieldwork into architectural design.
Locally and globally we are moving towards an aging society. In the Netherlands the demographic transition to an aging society runs parallel with transitions in the policy and practice of elderly care, which moves away from institutional buildings and arrangements towards a more informal support network. However, research on the question of how a more informal support and elderly care might be embedded in neighborhood settings and how more inclusive environments could take part in this care, is scarce. To change paradigms of care and the architecture of home and living environments, we need to know more about the influence of the elderly body and mind and the perception and use of home spaces among older people. With this starting point first masterclasses were set up.
The main questions that will be addressed in our work with masterclasses therefore concern the everyday life of residents. How do older people move, use and share spaces? How do (sub)communities work in residential care settings? And how do personal worlds relate to the outside world of the city and the neighborhood?
The paper will discuss the current paradigms in the housing policies and architecture of elderly care. The methodology will be elaborated and fieldwork will be shown.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationENHR 2019 - Housing for the next European social model
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventENHR Conference 2019: Housing of the Next European Social Model - Harokopio University, Department of Geography, Athens, Greece
Duration: 27 Aug 201930 Aug 2019


ConferenceENHR Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleENHR 2019
Internet address


  • Aging society
  • anthropology
  • pattern language
  • architecture of care
  • neighbourhood

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