Tangible and intangible elements of design for well-being in the home
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Issue The ISO/IEC Guide 71 states: "It is an important goal for the whole of society that all people, regardless of their age, size or ability, have access to the broadest range of systems". Considering housing as a system this paper asks if design of Australian housing generally takes the goal mentioned above into account and whether it is a sufficient goal both to address the desire of older Australians to remain living independently as they age and to support their well-being in the home. Approach The architect and author of this paper used 'an architecture of accommodation' approach in designing an award-winning house that would support independence of the occupants into old age. This house is used as a case-study to identify both 'tangible' and 'intangible' elements of the home that are seen to support independence. Further a limited post-occupancy evaluation was carried out as a public litmus test to indicate if the design approach taken was recognized by the general public. Results, discussion and practical implications Both tangible and intangible elements of design contribute to the independence and well-being of older people at home. However, two important guidelines on housing design for older people refer only to tangible elements of design. It is proposed that intangible elements of design, which make older people feel well, encourage self-esteem and support independence, are also critical in providing high quality housing for older people.
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