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Design Problems in Enhancing Producl~ivit:T and Independence in Housing for the Elderly Victor Regnier Design research addressing the behavioral aspects of built en- vironments is a relatively new area of investigation. The profes- sional organizations and journals that deal with this body of scholarship are less than 20 years old and continue to sort out the fundamental relationships that exist between the designer and the behavioral based environmental design researcher. In the last few years, several books (Moore et al., 1985; Sommer and Sommer, 1981; Zeisel, 1981) have been written that inform designers in a careful and thorough way how to interpret re- search findings and how to use the methodology of social science inquiry in the design and programming process to ensure that the final product is responsive to the social and behavioral needs of users. BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN For the last 16 years, organizations like the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) have attempted to develop a dialogue between architectural designers and social science Victor Regnier is associate professor of architecture and gerontology, University of Southern California. 218
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DESIGN PROBLEMSIN]IO USING FOR THE ELDERLY 219 researchers. This organization has been committed to sharing research methods and techniques that clarify the relationship between a designed environment and the human response to that environment. EDRA has experienced some difficulty in its efforts to serve both designers and researchers. The design-oriented members of the organization are generally concerned with communicating findings and with the ultimate application of behavioral re- search to the design of the environment. Social science research- ers, on the other hand, are concerned with increasing the sophis- tication of research methods and modifying traditional social science models to better understand the relationship between the physical environment and human behavior. Social science researchers tend to be more interested in the development of theory-based research that contributes to a better understand- ing of predictive models of human behavior. Designers are inter- ested in the evaluation of the environment and in identifying the design details, physical design parameters, and design con- cept modifications that lead to a more successful and satisfying design product. An Application Gap Between Designers and Researchers There is a lack of overlap between the interests and work of environmental designers and that of social science researchers. The gap has widened as a result of the tendency of environmen- tal design researchers and social scientists to define the goals of their research or design activities in such a way as to preclude the interest and influence of one another's work. The result is that designers retreat further from the application of theory- based methodologies and social science researchers become less concerned about how to "apply" their findings. Design research in gerontology and other aspects of life-span development has played a fundamental role in the development of design research methodologies and the creation of new knowI- edge. The activities of the Gerontological Society's Aging and Environments Committee occurred at a strategic time in the development of the field of design research inquiry. This project, which brought together social scientists and designers with in- terests in aging (Byerts et al., 1979; Lawton et al., 1982), pro
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220 VICTOR REGNIER vided a tremendous boost to the development of research in this field. Many environmental design researchers who had not been interested in gerontology immediately recognized the informa- tion needs of designers who hoped to create settings that sup- ported a clientele who were considered "at risk." Social science researchers saw the opportunity to develop new social and be- havior theories of environment that capitalized on the psychoso- cial changes in later adult development. In 1981 Zeise! wrote a book entitled Inquiry by Design, which provided methods and suggestions for how designers and re- searchers could work together in improving theory and offering better applications of evaluation research to the design process. The book carefully inspected the iterative process used by de- signers to develop acceptable design solutions and suggested where and how behavioral issues and social science input could be linked to the holistic process of design decision making that is sensitive to behavioral concerns. Research ShouIc3 Inform Design Zeisel conceived of the design process (Figure 1) as a linked spiral influenced by two types of input: image information and test information. Image information is used to refine aesthetic and visual expression in the design product; test information that comes from standards, environmental (natural forces) re- search, and behaviorally based research allows the designer to evaluate the design's functional attributes objectively. The de- signer typically arrives at a solution by using image information to create a drawing of the proposed environment. Test informa- tion is used to judge the quality and soundness of that design idea. The final des gn solution is the product of hundreds of these iterations, which vary in scale and application. One itera- tion could be as broad as testing the overall design concept; the next could fine-tune details related to a kitchen cabinet design (Figure 21. Design behavior research, in addition to being used as test information in the design process, is also used at the program- ming stage. An architectural program is a written document that serves as the communication between the architect and the client. It specifies design intentions, behavioral objectives, equipment, and furnishings. It is developed early in the design,
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY Decision ~J,/ --to build Conceptual - - shifts image ~~~\ Consecutive Domain of ;;'; A. acceptable __ ..., responses \ ~.~ // FIGURE 1 The design development spiral. SOURCE: Zeisel (1981). Eta ~E~ ~ Empirical knowledge ~ ~ ''~ FIGURE 2 Two types of information used in design. SOURCE: Zeisel (1981).
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222 VICTOR REGNIER often before drawings are completed. The program contains in- formation that places parameters around the design problem. Behavioral research is frequently used to arrive at principles and concepts that are articulated through the program. The program from a fully developed design can also provide working hypotheses for design research. Postoccupancy evalua- tion is the term for the design evaluation process commonly used to test design intentions and behavioral assumptions articulated in architectural program. New knowledge, which results from the evaluation of an occupied building, is used to aid design decision making and to correct behavioral assumptions in future programming documents. When postoccupancy evaluation is carried out, design intentions and hypotheses developed during the design process can be tested as research questions, thus measuring the appropriateness and accuracy of design assumptions. Captain Eldridge Congregate Housing One example of how postoccupancy evaluation can be struc- tured and made more explicit and meaningful to designers is through annotated plans that state environment behavior hy- potheses (Zeisel, 19811. The Captain Eldridge Congregate House in Hyannis, Massachusetts, illustrates 11 design-based research questions. The designers and the researcher developed these design hypotheses and linked them to the appropriate area on a plan of the first floor. This project is a sheltered housing envi- ronment that accommodates 20 older people. Many of these de- sign hypotheses are based on the results of previous research that has been used to develop the design solution. For example, the design of the stair landing and the rail detail near the elevator lobby have been constructed to allow residents to "pre- view" the lower floor lounge before entering that setting. One design hypothesis suggests that "building residents will use the opportunity to preview spaces before making a commitment to enter them." This behaviorally based design issue can be tested after the building has been constructed and occupied. The design-behavior hypotheses illustrated in the Captain Eldridge Congregate House range from statements dealing with the mix of unit types and sizes to assumptions that the environ- ment will mediate social interaction. Developing intention state
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DESIGN PROBLEMSINHO USING FOR THE ELDERLY 223 meets as a by-product of the design process allows important ideas to be made explicit for later testing. PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH RESEARCH TRANSLATION The most effective means of recording and testing the behav- ioral outcomes of design are through the development of a com- plete behaviorally based program and the postoccupancy evalu- ation of the design objectives established for the project. When program development and evaluation take place, behavioral in- tentions are made explicit and the intended social purpose of the building can be judged as successful or unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the architectural profession often treats pro- gramming as an added predesign service and considers postoc- cupancy evaluation to lie outside the normal range of services needed to design a building. This philosophy often results in structures that are designed without either of these two ele- ments. In the future, programming services may become more common as architects recognize how an architectural program can (1) stimulate effective communication between client and architect, (2) minimize misunderstandings that may often lead to litigation, and (3) lead to more confidence in the architect, repeat work, and a greater likelihood of being referred to other clients for future work. Postoccupancy evaluation (POE) research will become more common as academic institutions and independent research or- ganizations pursue design evaluation. Yet it is unlikely that the amount, pace, and precision of future POE research in the near future will be great enough to satisfy the overwhelming needs of design decision makers. Greater Professional Recognition for Research Another problem that leads to a lack of interest in the behav- ioral impact of design is the lack of attention it receives from the architectural profession and the most prestigious architec- tural journals. The architectural design journals (Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, and Architecture) typically display "current" work and are most interested in the expres
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224 VICTOR REGNIER sive, artful design solution that explores new design styles and rarely addresses the social and behavioral aspects of design ex- plicitly. This disregard for how architecture affects people is also reflected in the way architectural criticism is conducted. In some cases, architects may even pursue solutions that are antithetical to the needs of specific clients in search of a new philosophy of expression. Although functionalism is considered by some to be an important attribute of a "good" architectural design, in the eyes of critics it is definitely a necessary but not sufficient condition for judging the design creativity and overall quality of a final architectural product. The l980s have seen radical changes in the acceptance of de- sign philosophies as "post-modernism" and a wave of expressive and highly decorative building forms replace the more staid and disciplined philosophies of the "international school." Architec- tural journals that had little of philosophical interest to report in the 1970s now find themselves leading the effort to commu- nicate the stylistic interpretations of this new wave of design ideas. The behavioral design movement has suffered as atten- tion has shifted to art expression in design while ignoring the effects of design on users. Design Journals Ignore Behavioral Impacts of Design New design ideas use design metaphors, search for historical precedents, and generally involve more ornamentation and dec- oration. The design professions and design journals have encour- aged the pursuit of new directions at the expense of any careful understanding of how these new design ideas affect people. In fact, only one U.S. architectural journal has a specific policy of reviewing buildings that are completed and occupied before they are "published." Interest in pursuing the newest ideas at the expense of understanding how buildings work for occupants and users has encouraged a type of irresponsible architectural style that pursues stylistic expression at the expense of a more thor- ough and deeper understanding of the building and its qualities. On the other hand, behaviorally based journals dealing with design themes, such as the Journal of Architectural and PZan- ning Research, rarely pursue design in the context of research. The reporting of the results of postoccupancy evaluations is fre
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 225 quently undertaken with little understanding or concern about the overall quality of the design work being evaluated. Further- more, the lack of a critical tradition in design research makes the architects whose buildings are being evaluated very uncom- fortable with the process of "objective" evaluation. Designs that do not work for occupants or that are outright behavioral failures ironically can be design award winners. One need go no further than Pruitt-Igoe, the infamous St. Louis public housing development, to uncover a project that received widespread professional recognition and several design awards upon completion. In less than 10 years, it was recognized as a behavioral design failure, and plans for demolition were approved. DESIGN ISSUES AND CONCEPTS The following six design-related issues and concepts are impor- tant themes that frequently appear in the environmental design research literature: · physiological issues, sensory aspects of design, social interaction and social exchange, way-finding, neighborhood concerns, and management and design. The following discusses how each theme has been defined in research efforts and the implications for design application. Physiological Issues One of the most critical yet overlooked aspects of the physical environment is the matching of equipment, furnishings, and design details to the special physiological needs of the older person. The most obvious and embarrassing design errors are those that reflect an ignorance of basic physiological require- ments. Windows that are impossible for the arthritic hand to manipulate; kitchen storage that requires back-breaking bend- ing or a reaching device to access; doorknobs that are difficult to turn; controls that are impossible to read; and furniture that
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226 VICTOR REGNIER is difficult to enter or exit are a few of the most frequently cited design mistakes (Koncelik, 19791. Better Communication of Research Findings The results of numerous postoccupancy evaluations and the growing experience and sensitivity of manufacturers to the "graying" profile of the American consumer have hac] some in- fluence on product development. Yet it is still relatively easy to find new elderly housing projects without lever door handles or congregate housing projects that specify bathtubs with poorly located grab bars. Problems in this area frequently do not re- quire more research but rather better communication of re- search findings and good practice habits to design decision makers. Older consumers who have been sensitized to these issues now frequently insist that safety features and "considerate" design solutions be employed. Some solutions, however, appear so insti- tutional as to make them clearly unacceptable (Steinfeld, 1979) because of the associations they have with disability or nursing home environments. Barrier-free Design and Adaptable Housing Steinfeld conducted extensive analyses that involved research in human factors as well as empirical tests of various design solutions for the physically disabled. The findings from his re- search were used to revise the new American National Stan- dards Institute (ANSI) (1980) handicapped design standard. In analyzing the existing research in the area of disability, Steinfeld discovered a complete lack of empirical data regarding the use of bathrooms and limited data regarding the use of kitchens and small circulation spaces such as elevators. He also found the literature on the use of ramps to be conflicting. One of the most promising new ideas that arose from the research project was the notion of "adaptable" housing. Stein- feld identified three major areas of the dwelling unit that have significant effects on the adaptability of the unit; kitchen de- sign, bathroom (resign, and circulation/clearance. His primary
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 227 thesis was that housing designed from the outset using accessi- bility criteria and including tolerances and clearances for wheel- chair users will not add significantly to building costs and later can be easily adjusted for various disabled or handicapped users. Among the requirements for an adaptable kitchen are: adjust- able features such as sink and work areas that can be Towered and raised; wall cabinets mounted 48 inches above the floor; wall-mounted, self-cleaning ovens; pantry storage; and double- door refrigerators with 50 percent of the freezer space Tower than 54 inches. The simple idea that housing may be adapted to the particular needs of the occupant resolves the question of what type of "special hardware" should be specified in housing for the el- derly. Steinfeld's adaptable housing prototype develops a flexible foundation that can be changed as the resident's increasing dis- abilities warrant greater support. Much work needs to be done in understanding how inexpen- sive adjustments to single-famiTy housing can enhance safety and independence. Because approximately 70 percent of those over age 65 live in independent, single-famiTy, owner-occupied dwellings, solutions that retrofit these environments to support the older person's independence can have great influence. Sensory Aspects of Design Changes associated with normal aging frequently affect the acuity, accuracy, and general functioning of sensory organs. Taste, touch, sight, and hearing can all experience normal incre- mental losses as an organism ages. In some cases, these Tosses or partial losses can profoundly affect the way in which the environment is perceived or used. Sensory Tosses must be fully understood so that design practices can compensate and not exacerbate these problems. The most common and design-sensitive sensory Toss is that of sight. Low light levels and poor figure-to-ground contrast in designs, labels, and graphics can make it difficult to read impor- tent messages and cues (Pastalan, 19791. One of the strategies available for dealing with problems of visual loss is to create a high level of diffused light on critical surfaces where light is needed (Hiatt, 19801.
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228 VICTOR REGNIER The Treatment of Light Is a Major Issue The addition of more light can cause major problems by intro- ducing glare. To mitigate glare, single light sources and high contrasts in light levels should be avoided. Design solutions should strive to use indirect light sources because they minimize glare. Food preparation counters in the kitchen, the toilet and bathtub, and corridor spaces in which older person can trip and fall are a few of the critical settings in which careful attention to lighting can increase safety. Hearing loss can also be a critical sensory issue. Increasing the absorption of unwanted sound in spaces in which conversa- tions take place and minimizing reverberation and background noise are common environmental strategies that are used to respond to hearing problems. The Empathic Approach to Age-related Vision and Hearing Changes The "empathic model," which simulates the environment as it is experienced by older persons with normal sensory Tosses (Pas- talan, 1979), can be a useful training and research device. The model consists of a pair of glasses with specially coated lenses to simulate normal, age-related vision losses and an audio baf- fling device that reduces the volume and filters out high-fre- quency sounds. When outfitted with this equipment, a younger researcher can simulate the conditions under which an older person may perceive the physical environment. The empathic mode! has been used as a postoccupancy evaluation device out- fitting the researcher with a way of noting the perceptual prob- lems an older person might have in negotiating an environment. Normal age-related changes in vision involve a decrease in visual acuity and a decrease in the ability to refocus on objects at different distances. Older people also find it difficult to see well under Tow light conditions, to discern certain color intensi- ties (color differences between green and blue are often con- fused), and to judge distances. Progressive hearing Toss normally leads to an inability to hear high-frequency sound and a reduction in the ability to hear all sounds in general. Background noises, particularly Tow-fre- quency sound, interferes with the older person's ability to hear
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 239 explorations of environmental support and design has been ten- uous, although Moos and Lemke (1979) have developed a physi- cal and architectural features (PAF) checklist that is useful to design decisionmakers. CASE STUDIES One of the best ways to understand how design preferences and management response can be combined is to Took at several projects in which new ideas have been tested. The following three case studies are of different-sized residential settings for older residents. The VilIa Marin, San Rafael, California The Villa Marin is a new, 220-unit continuing care retirement community located in Marin County, California. It is unusual from a management, administrative, and design perspective. The concept involves an onsite nursing home and a personal care unit that are administered through a condominium-styTe financing program. Residents own their own units and pay a monthly charge for maintenance and for health care service. The condominium-style arrangement allows residents an equity investment in the project, while at the same time they receive the benefits associated with a traditional continuing care retire- ment community. The Villa Marin has pursued a number of interesting ideas. From an administrative and managerial perspective, the project offers the following features: · It is managed by a condominium governance system that allows residents to make and direct policies regarding the pro- vision of health service, maintenance, and upkeep. · Meal services are "unbundled." Residents are required to take only one meal a day in a large communal dining room. Other meals can be purchased on an a-la-carte basis, prepared in the full kitchen of each unit, or taken in one of several neigh- borhood restaurants. · Residents are required to join a health care organization that has negotiated a capitated fee agreement with the Villa Marin management. This feature allows management to control
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240 VICTOR REGNIER health care costs while providing residents with high-quality health care. With regard to physical characteristics, the Villa Marin offers the following features: · Units are large, and each is designed to include a full kitchen. In the majority of units, two bathrooms are provided. Sixty-five percent of the units are 2-bedroom units that average 1,200 square feet. When two bathrooms are designated in one unit, one bathroom has a shower and the other a tub to provide choice and ensure safety. · The common services located on the first floor include not only the traditional sedentary activities, such as a library, card room, arts and crafts area, and auditorium; they also include an indoor swimming pool, a spa, and an exercise room. The empha- sis on exercise, health, and nutrition and the central location of these amenities in the building encourage residents to pursue an active life-style. · The architectural treatment emphasizes residential style, eliminating any implications of institutionalization. The nurs- ing home and personal care units are located below the first floor and are recessed into the downsiope of the hillside. Each personal care or nursing unit has an attractive view of the surrounding foothills. This treatment carefully conceals this in- stitutional element; in conventional projects, it is often handled as a separate building that lends an institutional character to the campus. The entrance to the nursing unit is convenient and centrally located for residents who choose to visit friends and relatives. , . . . The Villa Marin is one of many new continuing care-type communities being developed for higher income older residents who wish to have the social, health, and recreational supports of congregate housing and a less institutional service network with larger residential units. Congregate Housing, Beverly Hills, California A new congregate facility designed for a higher income popu- lation and located in the city of Beverly Hills, California, is currently in the planning stage. This project has also pursued a
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 241 number of social, behavioral, and administrative goals in its planning and design. The building has been designed through a participatory process that involved 20 older community mem- bers in design decision making. Focus group discussions, reviews of model units/designs, community service preferences, and ex- pert opinions were used to arrive at a housing design and a management-governance document for residents (Regnier, 1985b). Some of the administrative and physical features that this project pursues include the following: · Residents have the choice of taking meals in six different ways in this project. They can dine in a large communal dining area or a private dining room. They can take a snack at the bar/ delicatessen or have an informal breakfast of rolls and coffee in an area that overlooks a garden area in the morning. They can prepare a meal in their own room or have a meal delivered there. Maximizing choice and providing opportunities for taking meals is an integral part of the project's concept. · A resident-centered management and administrative gover- nance system will place the responsibility for building evalua- tion in the hands of an elected resident committee. The commit tee will be structured to evaluate the operations, management, and environment each year and will be provided with technical assistance to do so. Space is set aside for a resident council meeting room with copying equipment, a typewriter, and a per- sonal computer for resident use only. · An emphasis on exercise and physical therapy (swimming pool, spa, exercise room) will encourage residents to maintain a regular exercise regimen. Office space for visiting doctors (mas- sage, therapist), and individual health assessments will also be available. · A "main street" pedestrian area near the center of the building with skylights and plantings will provide a convenient and central area for social interaction. Various activities will be clustered around this open space (lounge, library, post office, convenience store, beauty/barber, bar/deli, auditorium). The Beverly Hills congregate residence is a rather exclusive congregate housing facility oriented toward high-income resi- dents. It follows the trend of numerous self-contained congregate facilities that vary in size from 100 to 150 units and that are being developed throughout the country. These settings are de
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242 VICTOR REGNIER signed to support residents who desire the social interaction, food service, and health security services provided by such a facility. This particular project pursues the idea of maximizing choice and creating settings for informal social interaction. Captain Eldridge Congregate House, Hyannis, Massachusetts Small congregate housing developments designed for between 15 and 25 residents are also being constructed in various parts of the United States. These settings are similar in nature to the sheltered housing arrangements that have been popular for many years in England and northern Europe. The Captain Eld- ridge Congregate House, Hyannis, Massachusetts, is a state- financed housing development. It is a remodeled, nineteenth- century sea captain's single-family house that has been ex- panded to accommodate 20 older residents. The project used a design process that capitalized on the experiences of administra- tors and project directors of several similar, earlier projects. Some of the administrative and physical features that this project pursues include the following: · The management office is a small, unobtrusive alcove To- cated adjacent to the front entry. The full-time manager is nearby for assistance and counseling, but the office does not overpower the residential quality of the housing environment. · Small-scale, noncommercial food preparation equipment was used in order to minimize the fixed costs associated with the production of food. Two dining rooms, one a small informal kitchen nook and a second larger communal dining space, are provided. Residents also have a small kitchen in each unit. · A dramatic atrium design was used to create a focus for the interior of the project. The space not only provides better visual integration between the first and second floors, but it also serves to naturally ventilate the space during the spring and fall. · Unit entries are designed with sitting spaces, double-hung windows, Dutch doors, and exterior lights, all of which are used to control the relationship between the unit entry and the com- mon corridor that links the units together. Small congregate houses are becoming a more popular solu- tion to the problem of creating residentially scaled communities
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 243 in which individuals can provide informal support to one an- other while receiving the care, attention, and assistance they may need in order to live independently. DESIGN COMMUNICATION There are a number of different ways in which information about the behavioral aspects of design can be communicated to design decision makers. Before environmental design research can be considered truly useful, it must find its way to the draw- ing board. Some of the following approaches represent avenues for effectively communicating research findings to design profes- sionals, while at the same time emphasizing behaviorally based design decision making. Design Communication Through Training The most effective ways to influence architects, landscape ar- chitects, and interior designers to think about the needs of the elderly is through the educational system. Schools of architec- ture frequently consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of design methodology development. Many schools have faculty members with interest and expertise in behavioral evaluation who teach seminar and design studio classes. Exposing students to applicable techniques, such as behaviorally based program- ming and postoccupancy evaluation, can be quite useful. In design studio projects, developing a literature review that includes behavioral data can influence the way students think about how their designs affect people. The interdisciplinary as- pects of design evaluation can be facilitated in an academic institution that provides opportunities for sharing knowledge between disciplines. Professional Seminars Professional seminars that provide practicing architects with advice about the current state of the art in behaviorally based research can be effective. Providing information focused on a
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244 VICTOR REGNIER problem that is considered to be important and relevant is an effective way to intervene. Journals and Books Publishing projects that have been evaluated or that are par- ticularly good examples of thoughtful, behaviorally based design can be instructive to architects searching for examples of build- ings that work well. Often, a project that pursues a behaviorally based design idea in a careful and thoughtful way can provide evidence of both a design methodology as well as an illustration of an excellent design idea. Development and Recognition of Exemplary Projects An architect who designs housing may find visiting examples of excellent projects both useful and constructive. Rarely are projects judged by any objective criteria; therefore, "walking through" a project may provide the visiting architect with as much misinformation as it does valuable insights. Exemplary projects should be identified and evaluated. Competition and Design Awards Frequently, design competitions are used as a vehicle for ex- ploring new design ideas or for applying those ideas to a specific context. Normally, designs are judged only by site design and aesthetic criteria. Competitions that stress excellent behavioral solutions to complex problems can be a way of assembling ideas to stimulate careful thinking on the part of designers. The pub- lication low Rise Housing for Older People (Zeise! et al., 1977) is an example of a design competition that was used to produce a handbook on the development of Tow-rise housing. Making Future Market Preferences Explicit Examining past housing products can provide only a partial viewpoint of what new cohorts of older people will expect and prefer in retirement housing. The careful scrutiny of market preference research and cohort-based analysis of preferences will
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 245 provide architectural programmers with a sense of what new activities, amenities, and management-governance should be explored. Support for Postoccupancy Evaluation More support and recognition for postoccupancy evaluation research will lead to a better research base from which program- ming input and tested behavioral design ideas can be developed. The lack of tradition and support for postoccupancy evaluation must be changed if designers are to learn from past mistakes and avoid future problems. Problems with Information Transfer ant! Experimentation One of the most troublesome difficulties in design-based eval- uation is the communication of information to design decision makers. Training architectural students to understand and use behaviorally based research in the design process is one way to deal with information transfer problems. Another way is to en- courage collaboration with consultants whose expertise focuses on the behavioral aspects of design. Nonetheless, there are many impediments that keep designers and sponsors from developing buildings that are sensitive to the needs of older residents. Regulatory Requirements Health and safety requirements frequently discourage archi- tects from pursuing more humane and less institutional solu- tions, a pattern that is more pervasive in nursing home design than for other building types. The regulations that protect health and safety are frequently so restrictive that they discourage any innovative ideas. In addition, such regulations may be inappro- priate and can be applied unevenly in differing communities. A lack of understanding regarding the social and behavioral qualities associated with residential-type solutions often keep the environment from appearing more humane. For example, some occupancy codes and nursing home policies are written in such a way as to discourage an individual from bringing furni- ture and equipment from his or her former home. This provision
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246 VICTOR REGNIER eliminates the visual and perceptual continuance of a life-Ion" association with important items that are imbued with meaning and affective significance. Some regulatory requirements are not only counterproductive but may even be outdated. For ex- ample, regulations that discourage Tong-term care settings from using wood in preference to polyplastics err by specifying a substitute that actually burns more actively and creates a dense smoke by-product from combustion. Budgetary Constraints Frequently, the development of new ideas is met with conser- vative inertia, which can place narrow limits around the types of solutions the designer pursues. The lack of available infor- mation to test the costs and benefits of new ideas is often a problem that leads to the pursuit of a "safe" existing solution that has been tried and tested but that does not improve the state of the art. Hesitancy of Manufacturers Manufacturers have traditionally oriented their products to- ward a poorly defined aging market. Choices of building hard- ware and appliances that maximize safety and consider the sen- sory deficits of an aging population are only now beginning to be available in the marketplace. The aging of society has re- ceived enough recognition that corporations now carefully con- sider the impact of this market segment on their products. Much work has yet to be done, however, to represent those needs to manufacturers accurately. A Lack of General Expertise in Design Finally, the lack of expertise, or the lack of a general under- standing about this user group, still creates problems. Many firms designing housing for the elderly find themselves confused by the literature and frequently make mistakes attempting to respond to what they perceive are the needs of senior citizens. A more careful segmentation of the particular social and physical characteristics of the older person is a necessary prerequisite in understanding perceived needs and desires. Designed environ
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 247 meets that are overly supportive may be as much of a problem as those that err on the side of undersupport. CONCLUSIONS In summary, a few of the major problems that characterize the field of designing environments for the aging include the following: · There is a lack of clear-cut traditions to integrate the behav- ioral aspects of design into a balanced process of design decision making that considers aesthetics, site constraints, and the needs of users/residents. · The lack of effective communication strategies that sensi- tize designers and design decision makers to the philosophical, programmatic, and physiological needs of older people remains a problem. More effective avenues of communication and inter- active design decision making must be pursued if the level of design sophistication and design response is to improve. · Research must be structured and designed in such a way as to address the specific needs of design decision makers. Environ- mental design research that explores problems and ideas but does not deal with the application of those ideas to the physical environment may go unused. There is much to be learned about the development of more effective research and the pursuit of better means of making that research useful and understandable to designers. Until these problems are addressed, designers will continue to be ham- pered and designed environments will continue to be fraught with insensitive mistakes and problems. REFERENCES American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 1980. Specification for Making Building and Facilities Accessible To and Usable by Physically Handicapped Peo ple. A 117.1. New York: The Institute. Byerts, T., S. Howell, and L. Pastalan. 1979. The Environmental Context of Aging: Lifestyles, Environmental Quality and Living Arrangements. New York: Garland. Carp, F. 1966. A Future for the Aged The Residents of Victoria Plaza Austin: University of Texas Press. Hiatt, L. 1980. "Is Poor Light Dimming the Sight of Nursing Home Patients? Impli cations for Vision Screening and Care." Nursing Homes 29(5). Howell, S. 1980. Designing for Aging: Patterns of Use. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
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248 VICTOR REGNIER Kahana, E. 1982. "A Congruence Model of Person-Environmental Interaction." In Aging and the Environment: Theoretical Approaches, M. P. Lawton, P. Windley, and T. Byerts, eds. New York: Springer Publishing. Koncelik, J. 1976. Designing the Open Nursing Home. Stroudsburg, Pa.: Dowden, Hutchinson, and Ross. Koncelik, J. 1979. "Human Factors and Environmental Design for the Aging: Phys- iological Change and Sensory Loss as Design Criteria." In Environmental Context of Aging, T. Byerts, S. Howell, and L. Pastalan, eds. New York: Garland. Lawton, M. P. 1975. Planning and Managing Housing for the Elderly. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Lawton, M. P. 1977. "The Impact of the Environment on Aging and Behavior." In Handbook of the Psychology of Aging, J. E. Birren and K. Schaie, eds. New York: Van Nostrand. Lawton, M. P. 1979. "Therapeutic Environments for the Aged." In Designing for Therapeutic Environments, D. Canter and S. Canter, eds. New York: John Wiley. Lawton, M. P. 1980. Environment and Aging. Monterey, Calif: Brooks/Cole Publishing. Lawton, M. P., P. Windley, and T. Byerts. 1982. Aging and the Environment: Theoret- ical Approaches. New York: Springer Publishing. Lewin, K. 1951. Field Theory in Social Science. New York: Harper & Row. Moore, G., P. Tuttle, and S. Howell. 1985. Environmental Design Research Directions. New York: Praeger. Moos, R. 1976. The Human Context: Environmental Determinants of Behavior. New York: Wiley Interscience. Moos, R., and S. Lemke. 1979. Multiphasic Environmental Assessment Procedures: Preliminary Manual. Palo Alto, Calif: Stanford University School of Medicine, Social Ecology Laboratory. Morton, D. 1981. "Congregate Living." Progressive Architecture 62(8). Murray, H. 1939. Explorations in Personality. New York: Harper & Row. Pastalan, L. 1979. "Sensory Changes and Environmental Behavior." In Environmen- tal Context of Aging, T. Byerts, S. Howell, and L. Pastalan, eds. New York: Garland. Regnier, V. 1982. "The Neighborhood as a Support System for the Urban Elderly." In Enriching Lifestyles for the Elderly, J. McRae, ed. Gainesville, Fla.: University of Florida, College of Architecture. Regnier, V. 1984. Beverly Hills Congregate Housing: Participatory Design and Plan- ning Feasibility Analysis. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, Andrus Gerontology Center. Regnier, V. 1985a. Behavioral and Environmental Aspects of Outdoor Space Use in Housing for the Elderly. Los Angeles, Calif: University of Southern California, School of Architecture, Andrus Gerontology Center. Regnier, V. 1985b. "Congregate Housing for the Elderly: An Integrated and Partici- patory Planning Model." Ire Proceedings of the Research and Design '85 Conference, T. Vonier, ed. Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects. Regnier, V., and T. Byerts. 1983. "Applying Research Findings to the Planning and Design of Housing for the Elderly." In Housing for a Maturing Population, F. Spink, ed. Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute. Sommer, R., and B. Sommer. 1981. A Practical Guide to Behavioral Research. New York: Oxford University Press. Steinfeld, E. 1979. Adaptable Dwellings. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Struyk, R. J. 1977a. "The Housing Expense Burden of Households Headed by the Elderly." The Gerontologist 17.
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DESIGN PROBLEMS IN HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY 249 Struyk, R. J. 1977b. "The Housing Situation of Elderly Americans." The Gerontolo- gist 17. Struyk, R., and B. Soldo. 1980. Improving the Elderly's Housing: A Key to Preserving the Nation's Housing Stock and Neighborhood. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing. U.S. Public Health Service. 1947. Planning the Neighborhood. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Weisman, G. 1981. "Evaluating Architectural Eligibility: Way-finding in the Built Environment." Environment and Behavior 13. Zeisel, J. 1981. Inquiry by Design. Monterey, Calif.: Brooks/Cole Publishing.
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