Engaging Older Students in Learning to Design an Age Friendly Living Environment

This paper presents the learning process of thirty-three mature students (aged 45 to 76) enrolled in a subject 'Ideal Living Environment for the Ageing Society: From Theories to Design' offered by SPEED Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The World Health Organisation (2002) indicates education and learning are important factors to allow older adults to enjoy a life with quality. Nowadays older people are agents of change, innovation and democracy, their role as city dwellers should never be neglected. Although Hong Kong older people are encouraged to participate in community programmes promoting the idea of ‘age friendly city’, they are seldom consulted regarding the design of the city space. In many participatory projects involving elders, they are considered as ‘end-users’, guided by experts to voice their views. In June and July 2019, we will teach the subject mentioned. Our aim is not to involve the students to be passive participants and informants. Based on the idea that learning is “the process of making a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of an experience” (Mezirow), we initiate the students' awareness of their right to city (Lefebvre). They reflect on their existing living conditions using the photovoice method. They learn to organize visual simulation modeling workshops to design and discuss collectively their ideal habitable environment. Our objective is to empower the students to reflect concretely on what is an age friendly city. This learning process is discussed by the tutors and students to evaluate its empowerment capacity.

Elderly Learning; Age Friendly City; Transformative Learning; Participatory Design

Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Dr. Yan Chi Jackie Kwok
    • Part time Lecturer, Age Friendly Built Environment Research, SPEED Hong Kong Polytechnic University
    • I have been researching on urban living environment for older people since the 1990s, using the methods of Participatory action research and life story research. My recent publications (co-writer: Dr. Hok Bun KU) are: ‘Action Research and Urban Planning in Asian Context – an example of Hong Kong’ in: The SAGE Handbook of Action Research Third Edition (2015, July) and Elderly people as "apocalyptic demography"? A study of the life stories of older people in Hong Kong born in the 1930s, Journal of Aging Studies (January, 2016), 'Participatory action eesearch: public space design by older people' in: C Keng Hua& C Mihye (eds.), Creative Ageing Cities: Place design with Olde People in Asian Cities, Routledge, UK (2018)
  • Edmun Cheng
    • Design Director, BEE WORKS, Hong Kong Hong Kong