Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Dr. Nuala Flood QUB
All Ireland Architectural Research Group (AIARG) Conference 2018
Out of place, is the city a space for the elderly? A study of public urban spaces and their meaning for the aging population.
Queens University Belfast
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
The city is a reminiscent entity, where traces of its history are written into the corner of its streets, the grating of the windows, and the balusters of its steps. In fact, every segment within the urban shell is marked by life (Calvino e Weaver, 1979). This portrayal of the city outlines how people give life to the city endowing it with its personality and meaning, making it a place. However, place is a complex lexicon as it can be abstract and humanist defined as the essence of human existence “in-place” or a geographical fixed coordinate on a map. From the phenomenological standpoint to be human is to be “in place”, to live is to live locally, and know first the place one is in (Cresswell, 2015). Heidegger adds suggesting that “being” is “to be home” is to dwell in a place where one feels safe and peaceful and exists in freedom with the willingness to protect and preserve the place (Heidegger e Hofstadter, 1971). Place in this setting has a trinity of facets namely: descriptive, social constructionist and phenomenological. These elements define place as the essence of human existence (Cresswell, 2015). In the City, urban places are coloured, shadowed, illuminated, and textured; they are composed of surfaces, edges, shapes, and interspaces. However, they are more than a visual world. Sight is only the first step in the explanation of experience. The others are kinesthesis, the perception of movement and somaesthesica, the sensory perception of bodily feelings like touch, pain, and position of limbs (Gibson, 1950). In a publicurban context, place needs to be universally accessible, accommodating everyone including the marginal, the forgotten, the silent (Kurniawati, 2012). Moreover, Wolch claims the city often excludes sections of society (Wolch et al., 2014). Once these factors combine reading place requires action and reaction and as one ages the sensory and physical instruments change their functional and cognitive capacity, making seniors more vulnerable to the effects of local environment on health and related behaviours (Ribeiro et al., 2013). Given these concerns, this paper will explore meaning making in public urban space through the experience of the elderly by way of reviewing the literature in the domains of place making, the public urban environment and ageing.