“Health is more than healthcare.”
Hong Kong’s ageing population presents manifold challenges that call for innovative solutions. The elevating rates of many non‐communicable diseases (including cancer, diabetes, heart and lung diseases) are not only a matter of healthcare quality — they are directly linked to physical inactivity. Exploring the city is a low priority to many elderly people, and understandably so as much of our dense built environment is deprived of age-friendly designs and quality communal spaces. Confined to their homes or nearby community centres, the elderly widely suffers from loneliness and poor psychological wellbeing, which is detrimental to their mental and physical health. There is an apparent lack of communication between design professionals and end users.
“We are here to offer a holistic approach towards healthy ageing.”
The team seeks to encourage elderly people to build up a personal perspective of the city, furthering their mental horizon beyond their own neighbourhood, that they are socially motivated to move around extensively. The team also emphasises social participation by providing a proper and trusted channel where they may voice out their views to a professional team. Direct interaction with end-users in turn inspires architects and planners to create more humane and thoughtful designs, which improve the city’s walkability for an ageing population.
The team has designed a programme with five cohorts, each focusing on a different aspect of urban design, such as way-finding and change of light levels. Elderly participants learn basic concepts of architectural design and universal accessibility, before guided by architects, planners and students to site visits and conduct place audits together. The programme wraps up with a public experiential exhibition for visitors to experience physical barriers faced by elderly people. Artworks created by the elderly and students will also be re-created as art exhibits.
Via the programme, the elderly gains basic architectural and urban planning concepts, and are then given the opportunity to directly reflect their needs to professionals who plan and design our urban spaces. This is the first step towards re-designing Hong Kong as an elderly-friendly and walkable city – one that encourages physical activity as well as cultural and social involvement of the elderly, improving their overall well-being.
The elderly and students are also brought together for intergenerational exchange and mutual learning, an experience to be amplified in their family and community settings.
– 50 elders
– 25 students
– 15 architects and planners
– 3200 general public members
Jean is the Director of CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing and an Emeritus Professor of Medicine. For 30 years she has been leading the development in geriatric medicine, with particular emphasis on ageing and public health, health service delivery to the elderly and quality of life issues at the end of life. Her current projects aim at revolutionising the way society views and treats the elderly – a true pioneer in her field. Jean graduated from Cambridge University.
Mee Kam, internationally known for her research on urban planning policy and practices of Hong Kong and China, has been consultant to the United Nations and European Union in her academic capacity. Envisioning an urbanism that nurtures the environment and healthy human relationships, she wields her expertise in promoting social and spatial justice. Her publications have earned her six Hong Kong Institute of Planners’ Awards. Mee Kam received her PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA.
Prior to joining CUHK, Kar Him has led a number of consultancy projects on policy review advocating for sustainable development. His current research focuses on urban health and well-being in built environment and advocates for community participation and user-orientated co-creation in the process of design and planning. Apart from studio teaching in the School of Architecture, Kar Him is largely involved in the Urban Studies Programme teaching urban sustainability, digital design techniques and urban design studio.