Planning Alternate Architecture for the Elderly

With a growing elderly population, our lawmakers must make alternate considerations for potential aged care facilities as central components of new urban developments. Globally, the number of individuals aged 60 and over has more than doubled since 1980 and this is expected to double again by 2050[1]. Within Australia alone, ‘one in seven [Australians is] aged 65 and over’[2]. “Driven by falling fertility rates and remarkable increases in life expectancy, population aging will continue, even accelerate,”[3] suggesting that it may not be long before we find ourselves in this demographic. Hence, it is paramount that alternate architectural systems are conceived with intent of addressing the specific needs of the elderly such that they mitigate the myriad of potential problems faced by this select population.

The architectural envelopes encompassing scope must extend beyond the natural notions of tactility and functional accessibility; elevators, stairs etc, furthering its forays into investigating potential solutions to the deteriorating mental health of those in permanent aged care. 85 percent of individuals admitted into permanent aged care are 75 and over[4] of which “just over half (52% or 86,736) … ha[ve] mild, moderate or major symptoms of depression”[5].

Diagram 1 – Aged Care Facilities in Perth

In beginning to understand the plight of the elderly, we interrogate current aged care facilities in Perth (see diagram 1). A closer inspection (see diagram 2) suggests their disconnects with the greater urban fabric. There are little to no permanent spatial programme facilitating a connection between the elderly and the rest of society. This ‘islanding’ not only alienates but removes the invaluable knowledge bank that is the elderly as cultural anchors from our society. Furthermore, this may be a contributing factor in the higher depression rates for the elderly.

Diagram 2 – Aged Care Facilities in South Perth

Potentially, a new architecture facilitating a cultural exchange between today’s youth and those in permanent aged care may overcome ‘islanding’. Caring for the elderly as a function of cultural exchange could be drafted into primary and secondary school curriculums to ensure that those in aged care are not forgotten and interacting with them becomes both second nature and cultural. This may ensure the success of alternate aged care architectures where an emphasis is placed on cultural exchange between old and young hereby mitigating the question of ‘how can we encourage these two vastly different demographics to interact?’. Furthermore, aged car facilities may present overlap spaces in which cultural transfer is encouraged through common ground activities – sports or board games. Learning opportunities such as cooking, painting, or drawing may also be offered. Alternatively, entertainment in the form of a pub where food costs are subsidized to attract individuals may again encourage individuals to partake in this cultural exchange hereby mitigating the potential for depression to affect those in permeant aged care.


[1] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017), World Population

Ageing 2017 – Highlights, (United Nations, 2017),

[2] “Older Australians at a glance,” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, September 10, 2018, accessed April 23, 2021,

[3] World Health Organization, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Global Health and Aging, (World Health Organization, 2011),

[4] “Explore admissions into age care,” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, last modified June 30, 2019

[5] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015, “Australia’s welfare 2015,” Australia’s welfare series no. 12 (2015), accessed April 23, 2021,