Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Wander of life: An agora to facilitate elderly's autonomous and connected life in Johnsonville

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posted on 2021-11-16, 00:38 authored by Kong, Yuqi

New Zealand is experiencing a demographic transitional period when there is increasing percentage of the elder population out of the total. Researches and scholars overseas have investigated in architecture’s role of improving environments for the elderly, primarily from the perspective of disability. However, these considerations which solely come from the physicality point of view and can be easily treated just as after thoughts, sometimes still leaving the elderly in dilemmas.  As an attempt to response to such an issue, this thesis asks if accessible architecture can enable the elderly to be included in public space as community members rather than an isolated group. It aims to explore possibilities of creating accessible public space for elderly, which is also thoughtful towards other community members’ interactions. These explorations are set on the intersection of environmental gerontology* and phenomenology, focus on making space accessibly to the elderly physically, sensorially and psychologically.  To re-introduce the elderly as community members who are as significant as others, the diversity and complexity of their conditions and needs should be considered, which requires the design explorations to be site-specific to avoid over-generalization. To contextualise the question, Johnsonville is chosen as the site for study, thus, the character of local elderly can be considered for appropriate design iterations. To extend current design discourse about the role of architecture in the context of environmental gerontology, the theory of phenomenology and relevant case studies will be investigated. To highlight implications and limitations for elderly-accessible public space design, reflection will be made regarding the design explorations against the broader discursive arguments.  One of the primary implications of this design-led thesis is for the discourse on elderly-friendly environments. The other implication is an advocacy for designing public space for a wider public interaction. It means taking everyone in the community into equal consideration and creating public space that is equal for every user.


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Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


de Sylva, Shenuka