Mind the gap: developing age-inclusive public space in Frihamnen

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Architecture and planning beyond sustainability, MSc
Rátkai, Márton
Wirth, Linda
Oftentimes, demographic position defines one’s place in society because most often we categorize people based on their age (same as on their sex and race but with less awareness). Ageism is both manifested and supported in the built environment. On the one hand, ageist attitudes are often unconsciously influencing the design of space. On the other hand, this space then continues to reproduce ageist perspectives that caused them in the first place by influencing the behaviour of the people who use them. In this thesis, we investigate how we can design public space to combat ageism. We conduct a case study in Jubileumsparken in Gothenburg which explores ways to design with and for older people through experimental and activist practices. We deliberately open the definition of the architect including all who participate in the creation of space. Consequently, we use a participatory placemaking methodology, Recoding, and apply our own approach based on actions and reactions on it. In our literature review, specific focus lies on the right to the city for older people and intergenerational interaction. The former implies equal access and use of public space, the latter focuses on public spaces as meeting places for the whole society. Analysing these two concepts in relation to ageism gives us a theoretical base on how to tackle ageism in the design practice which is further investigated in our case study. In our first workshop, we step away from the traditional role of the architect and become listeners to the older people’s stories. In a second action, older people co-generate design ideas for Jubileumsparken which form the base for our spatial proposal of an outdoor library. We develop that idea further by incorporating research, other stakeholders and the first workshop which leads us to the design of UNTOLD! – a place to exchange stories through different forms of interaction. With this thesis, we wish to raise awareness for the deeply internalized and neglected topic of ageism in the built environment and support a paradigm shift in designing age-inclusive public spaces.
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