A Rural Retirement
When the time comes for older adults living in rural New Zealand to retire, it is often difficult for them to age in their communities. Rural areas are often isolated and depleted of services, giving many older rural New Zealanders no choice other than to move to an urban area to obtain a higher level of care. This move commonly results in the deterioration of mental and physical health; the loss of their tight-knit and supportive community; and a decreased sense of connection to the natural environment and animals.
This thesis adopts a design-led research strategy to develop an alternative retirement living option that allows rural New Zealanders to age-in-place in rural areas. Set in Tikorangi, a small farming district in North Taranaki, it targets residents who are often forced to move into the nearest town or city. Adopting a participatory design process to gather information about the needs and wants of the target audience, followed by a series of design explorations and iterations, this thesis tests how the built environment can enhance the relationship between seniors, members of the community, the natural environment, and animals.
The final design explores how the rural environmental characteristics can be adjusted allowing rural older adults to retire and age successfully within their rural communities. It aims to be an exemplar for other small rural communities throughout New Zealand.