Envisioning Bodies And Architectures Of Care: Reflections On Competition Designs For Older People

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Architects shape future dwellings and built environments in ways that are critical for aging bodies. This article explores how assumptions about aging bodies are made manifest in architectural plans and designs. By analyzing entries for an international student competition Caring for Older People (2009), we illustrate the ways in which aged bodies were conceived by future architectural professionals. Through analyzing the architectural plans, we can discern the students’ expectations and assumptions about aging bodies and embodiment through their use of and reference to spaces, places and things. We analyse the visual and discursive strategies by which aged bodies were represented variously as frail, dependent, healthy, technologically engaged and socially situated in domestic and community settings, and also how architects inscribed ideas about care and embodiment into their proposals. Through our analysis of these data we also attend to the non-representational ways in which design and spatiality may be crucial to the fabrication of embodied practices, atmospheres and affects. We end by reflecting on how configurations and ideologies of care can be reproduced through architectural spaces, and conclude that a dialogue between architecture and sociology has the potential to transform concepts of aging, embodiment and care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Early online date4 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • architecture, design, images of aging, embodiment
  • Design
  • Architecture
  • Embodiment
  • Images of aging

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