Planning for Aging Neighborhoods Case Lauttasaari
Keywords:Neighborhood, elderly, urban planning
AbstractThe demographic structure of population is changing. Population projections are showing a decrease in the birth rate and increase in the dependency ratio. Further knowledge and awareness is needed of how urban planning can support the population living independently at home at very old age.
In Finland approximately 90% of the elderly over 75 years live in their own homes (YM, 2012). The planning of housing environment and local neighborhood can support inclusion and functional capacities of elderly persons. The neighborhood quality and access to local services (Perez & al., 2001) are major components of residential satisfaction. Studies indicate, that over 75-year-olds opt for apartments in city centres and subcentres (Ristimäki et al., 2013), near local services and public transport. According to Wang and Lee (2010) more there are walking destinations in the neighborhood, more the older adults walk. Burgess (1954) argues that the local services, facilities and green areas in the neighborhood also promote the social interaction.
Geo referenced and statistical data of age groups and housing (PaITuli, SeutuRuutu), public transport (Matka-aika.fi) and services (Palvelukartta.fi) are available online. The information combined from different sources can be used in planning for aging friendly neighborhoods. The law ensures all residents right to participate in the planning process. Therefore, it is important to involve also the elderly residents in the planning and assessment process. The methods, however, have to be adapted to this purpose.
The data about apartment houses with lifts and the density of population over 65 years are found in open database. The distances to services, street connectivity as well as topography and contour lines give indication of the walkability. To get in-depth user knowledge, however, user driven qualitative methods are needed. Workshops and online questionnaire were used to involve the elderly residents living independently in Lauttasaari area. The daily paths and favorite places were assessed together with the elderly persons in workshops and through observational walks.
In the case study area many old apartment buildings, where elderly persons live, lack lifts. The immediate surrounding and court yard become more important for elderly residents as the recreational areas are not easily reachable. However, the court yards often lack possibilities for activities and leisure. Long walking distances, lack of benches and resting places along the walking paths make some meaningful places, as the sea shore, inaccessible to the elderly. Furthermore, major challenge in the Nordic countries is the winter maintenance.
To promote user friendly accessible living environment, it has to be developed in multiple spatial scales. The challenge is to develop intersectional collaboration within all municipal actors to ensure independent coping and inclusion. More attention has to be given in the planning of common use spaces inside and outside the apartment building. The public transport has to ensure access to commercial and health services as well as cultural and leisure activities.
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