Elderly people and architects in Copenhagen design senior-friendly public spaces
Only to a small extent do the capital’s senior citizens use Copenhagen’s public spaces. The aim of a new research project is to change that situation. Together with 3B and AKB, KADK have invited senior citizens in Copenhagen to a series of workshops aimed at coming up with ideas for a more senior-friendly city.
Senior citizens in Copenhagen barely use the city’s squares and parks. This is the disheartening conclusion of several studies of citizens’ use of the capital’s public spaces.
But that needs to change. A new research project at KADK aims to examine how we can create active urban and outdoor spaces for the city’s senior citizens.
Together with the housing associations, 3B and AKB, researchers at KADK have invited residents in Sydhavnen to take part in a series of workshops to generate ideas and proposals for senior-friendly outdoor spaces.
From Sydhavnen to Denmark as a whole
Initially, the ideas from the workshop will result in three outdoor spaces specifically aimed at elderly residents in Sydhavnen. But the idea is that, in the long term, the experience gained from the work in Sydhavnen will benefit senior citizens throughout Copenhagen – and the country as a whole.
“We need to face the fact that architects and urban planners have not been good enough at creating spaces for senior citizens. We have succeeded in involving and activating many young people with skate parks, street basketball and parkour courses, but not the elderly. They have been overlooked. If we are to change this situation, we need to give senior citizens a voice, so that together we can identify possibilities and design public spaces and activities that cater specifically for them,” says René Kural, an architect and associate professor at KADK who is in charge of the research project.
Architects’ knowledge sets out to improve physical environments
Researchers from KADK are working closely with the housing associations, AKB and 3B to realise the three senior-friendly outdoor spaces in Sydhavnen.
“It is the mission of 3B to be socially responsible and build housing for everyone. And of course we are also interested in having outdoor areas for everyone. Our residents should also have an opportunity to live a good life outside and around the houses, whatever their age, gender, and background. So we are delighted to unite our knowledge of the residential areas with the architects’ expertise, so we can improve the physical environments for our elderly residents,” says Steffen Morild, President of 3B.
The Sydhavnen project is based on studies of housing associations conducted by the anthropologist and KADK postdoc, Kamilla Nørtoft and Sidse Carroll, a PhD student at KADK. The joint postdoc and PhD project is part of the research collaboration initiative, APEN - Activity- and Health-Enhancing Physical Environments Network. It is looking at how to get more young people, children, and particularly older people to make use of the city’s recreational spaces, thereby improving their quality of life and well being.
The project is affiliated with the Institute of Architecture, Town and Landscape. The University of Copenhagen and the University of Southern Denmark are also part of this interdisciplinary collaborative initiative. The project is supported by the Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities, the Velux Foundation and the Tryg Foundation.