A set of proposals for age-friendly environments goes on display at The Lighthouse in Glasgow tomorrow (Saturday 1st October 2016), showcasing the work of students and recent graduates of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

Produced over three years of the Mobility, Mood and Place (MMP) research project, led by OPENspace at ECA, the work was created by architecture and landscape architecture students under the direction of Iain Scott, working collaboratively with older people in Manchester, London and Orkney.

Alice Mears and Anna Bateson, who both graduated from the Architecture - BA/MA programme this summer and have now returned to ECA to study on our MArch programme, have been talking to us about their involvement in the project, which took them to Orkney to work with local residents.

Alice says “the project was my first chance, academically, to involve real people in both the research and design stages of a project. To be part of a live research project was a novel experience within a university design studio, and the co-design workshops were a great chance to meet residents and highlight the key aspects that make places age-friendly, with some issues that I had never appreciated beforehand".

"A real highlight of the process was getting the chance to meet with some of the participants from the initial workshops for a second time, here in Edinburgh. Discussions surrounding proposals really pushed designs forward with greater consideration as to what it meant to be an older resident in an island community”.

A fascinating and eye-opening experience

Anna describes the project as “a fascinating and eye-opening experience into the importance of designing for older people, and the inadequate focus it receives".

"Over the course of the research, it became obvious that designing for all ages and abilities is far too often an afterthought for many architects, and that, if designers were to place more focus on this, it would lead to better designed spaces".

"Separate co-design exercises with older people and experts in dementia were revealing experiences. The results were often surprising; for example in the Orkney workshop, many older participants said that they liked and wanted to live in a house with stairs, as the found it to be good exercise. This is interesting, as it reveals that often our assumptions and stereotypes are grossly wrong”.

The Mobility, Mood and Place exhibition runs in Gallery Two of The Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow from Saturday 1st October to Sunday 9th October 2016 as part of Architecture and Design Scotland’s ‘Say Hello to Architecture’ programme, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, and the Festival of Architecture. Entry is FREE.

The exhibition then transfers to Edinburgh for a three-day international conference (11th-14th October) hosted by the Mobility, Mood and Place research team, on the final day of which, students from this year’s MMP studio will be participating in a Design for Dementia workshop. The conference also includes a FREE discussion on Ageing and Place hosted in partnership with the Academy of Urbanism.