Institute for Health & Ageing

Built Environment 

Built Environment 

Examining how urban, landscape, and architectural design attributes are related to older adults’ physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and health.

Neighbourhood and residential built environments can contribute to older adults’ health and well-being in multiple ways. First, they can provide older adults with an opportunity to be active physically and socially. Given that people experience declines in physical function as they age, it is important to design neighbourhood environments in ways in which they mitigate functional declines. Designing age-friendly environments is a priority in ageing countries such as Australia, because it can assist older residents to maintain their daily activity and functional independence over time. Second, exposure to environmental elements such as greenery has implications for health and well-being. Exposure to natural environments is known to have therapeutic benefits. Considering that many older adults are at risk of developing mental health problems, it is relevant to investigate how greenery at home, immediate outdoors, and local environments can contribute to their well-being.

In order to address the issues described above, this research theme examines how urban, landscape, and architectural design attributes are related to older adults’ physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and health. Through the investigation, we aim to produce evidence that can inform the design (or re-design) and evaluation of neighbourhood and residential built environments to ultimately contribute to enhancing older adults’ physical and mental health.

The interdisciplinary research theme is unique because it involves health and the design of both neighbourhood and residential (or outdoor and indoor) environments. Research has made some progress in identifying the roles of neighbourhood environments in older adults’ physical activity and health. However, little is known about how residential environments are relevant to occupiers’ well-being. We will expand our research expertise (developed in examining the relationships between neighbourhood environments and older adults’ physical activity) to residential environments to produce further evidence that can help practitioners to make informed decisions.