Research gives seniors a say on infill development

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Research gives seniors a say on infill development

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Published on 2 July 2012

A research publication that highlights the needs and desires of seniors in infill developments across South East Queensland will be launched at the University of the Sunshine Coast tomorrow (Tuesday 3 July).

The book, Infill Development for Older Australians in South East Queensland, has been co-authored by USC’s Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Planning Studies Dr Claudia Baldwin, PhD student Caroline Osborne, and Phil Smith, the Associate Director of Brisbane-based architectural and urban design firm Deicke Richards.

Infill development is new development that occurs within established urban areas where the sites are either vacant or had been previously used for other urban purposes. The scale of development can range from one additional residential lot to a major mixed-use redevelopment.

The book can be viewed online at www.usc.edu.au/seniorliving. A Brisbane launch will be held at the State Library of Queensland at 2pm on Friday 13 July).

Dr Baldwin said the publication was based on a research project conducted in partnership with people 55 years and older in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to design liveable, affordable and sustainable neighbourhoods and accommodation in infill areas.

“The resulting principles and accommodation designs not only confirm seniors’ innate understanding of some commonly accepted urban design principles, but they paint a vivid picture of what older people in a sub-tropical environment find appealing and supportive as they age,” she said.

“The research shares a new-found understanding of older people’s needs and preferences for shaping the built environment in the sub-tropics. It illustrates the preferences of older people through their own photos and words, and provides examples of innovation achieved through a collaborative design process.

“This book is intended to be used by developers, non-profit care providers, planners, builders, and policy-makers as a guide to how to meet the challenge of providing liveable safe spaces for older people in a densifying community.

“It provides justification for a change from ‘business as usual’, to delivering an accessible product to an increasingly knowledgeable and discerning seniors’ market.”

USC’s research for this project was supported by the Queensland Government’s Urban Land Development Authority, the Sunshine Coast Council, the Churches of Christ Queensland (a not-for-profit aged care services provider) and Deicke Richards.

Dr Baldwin said the study was unique in its use of the PhotoVoice and design charrettes (intensive hands-on workshops) as participatory methods for seniors.

“With PhotoVoice, seniors took photos that described their perceptions of features they found helpful in the built environment, or that were challenges, as they aged,” she said. “Then they discussed them in focus groups and prepared a presentation to urban designers.

“And with design charrettes, the participants interacted with an urban design team over two sessions to help them capture their ideas in accommodation designs.”

— Terry Walsh

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