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Open Access [Small Scale] Senior Housing [in Suzhou]

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According to the United Nations Population Division, China has entered the 'rapidly aging population' growth stage, and the number of individuals over 65 will reach 200 million in 2025 and exceed 300 million in 2050. However, the current stock of senior housing in China is limited in both total units and variety. In the next years, China will face a big challenge in the construction of buildings that can address and facilitate the needs of a growing numbers of senior citizens. ARC102 is a year 2 studio of the Bachelor Program at the Department of Architecture in XJTLU (in itself already a case-study in terms of East-West education). The 120 students enrolled in this studio (Chinese nationals born in/around 1996) were asked to design a 6 to 8 unit senior housing environment (with complementary public, social and healthcare facilities) modelled on the interpretation and adaptation of a selection of existing (contemporary and historical) European senior housing projects. The ARC102 studio explored the relationship between ageing and architectural scale/lay-out as a small-scale design exercise; departing from a detailed design analysis of and spatial research into European senior housing precedents, the studio asked students to re-imagine and adapt the underlying architectural, spatial, social and material principles to a site in the Suzhou Industrial Park, a new modern district built east from the historical city of Suzhou. This paper focuses on a particular moment/transition in the studio set-up as it tries to highlight how through a process-led design and research studio students developed a (conceptual design) proposal for elderly housing that connects different (architectural) cultures, from precedents and problems to possibilities, broadening the range of architectural answers to the reality of ageing China.
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Keywords: AGEING SOCIETY; ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN; ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION; CHINA; EUROPE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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