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The ageing body and architecture
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. (NISAL National Institue for the Study of Ageing and Later life)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5295-2482
2008 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This presentation aims at discussing the theories of Merleau-Ponty about the body as the anchor in the life-world, applied to the context of the old person-s experience of architecture. The point of departure is that the ageing body faces spatial challenges for those for whom old age brings frailty and disabilities. The environment, to which the individual is accustomed, must be mastered in novel ways. The relationship between the ageing body and space is multifaceted. A qualitative research project about home adaptations shows the complexity in the body/space relationship. The purpose of adaptations to the home is to remove or mitigate obstacles in the physical environment. The study focuses major adaptations, embracing design, implementation and use of the adaptation. Data collection methods were interviews with older clients and professionals involved in major adaptations; occupational therapists, grant surveyors and builders. The results include clients- perceptions of the room prior to the completion, as well as the experiences of the finalised outcome. From basic bodily relations the individual develops more complex strategies to master spatial difficulties. Experiences of major and minor difficulties emerge in which vulnerability is the core. New bodily opportunities offered by the adaptation involve a certain recapture of independence. New relationships between the client and family members, as well as carers, are allowed to emerge. The presentation aims to summarize existing theories of relevance to the understanding of the old person-s relation to space as embodied experience. These theories include social science research about the ageing body, as well as phenomenological architectural research where the body is in the focus. The presentation also explores research about embodiment and cognition of relevance to the design of spaces for older people. The presentation concludes by identifying gaps in the theoretical framework and discusses possible directions for theoretical development.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chalmers, Gothenburg: Architect School, Chalmers , 2008.
Keyword [en]
Architecture, body
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-43954Local ID: 75227OAI: diva2:264815
Konferens för arkitekturforskare, Chalmers, 2008
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2015-04-22

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Nord, Catharina
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