Place-Making with Older Adults: Towards Age-Friendly Communities

Principal Investigator: Dr Ryan Woolrych, Heriot Watt University

Project Fact File

Start DateMay 2016
End DateApril 2019
Funded by

ESRC-Newton Fund

Project TeamDr Jenny Fisher
Prof Rebecca Lawthom
External Providers and CollaboratorsDr Ryan Woolrych, Heriot Watt University
Prof Adriana Portella, Universidade Federal de Pelotas
Prof Judith Sixsmith, University of Northampton
Dr Harry Campbell Smith, Heriot Watt University
Dr Soledad Garcia Ferrari, University of Edinburgh
Prof Michael Murray, Keele University
Dr Eduardo Rocha, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Prof Maria Cristina Lay, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Prof Antônio Tarcísio Reis, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Isolda de Araújo Günther, University of Brazil
Prof Hartmut Günther, University of Brazil

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Project Details


Ageing populations in the UK and Brazil have generated new challenges in how to best design urban environments that support and promote everyday social engagement and healthy urban living for older people. As they age older adults face declining physical and cognitive capacities, changes to their living arrangements and loss of social supports. The ageing-in-place agenda posits that the preferred environment for older adults to age is in the community, where they can remain active, engaged, socially connected, and independent. However, contemporary urban cities can be ‘unfriendly’ and ‘hostile’ to older adults, acting as a barrier to accessing social, economic and civic opportunities.

Aims and Objectives

This research seeks to identify and support the development of a strong sense of place, defined as the social, psychological and emotional bonds that people have with their environment. A strong sense of place results from having access to supports for active participation, opportunities to build and sustain social networks, and assuming a meaningful role in the community. Societally, the creation of age friendly urban environments that support sense of place is integral to successful ageing ensuring that older adults can continue to make a positive contribution in old age, delaying the need for institutional care and reducing health and social care costs.