Who Needs Age-Friendly Cities? Exploring Representions through Participatory and Trans-Disciplinary Research

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Denise PICHÉ , Architecture, Université Laval, Québec, QC, Canada
This presentation bears on the first two years of a six year participatory and trans-disciplinary research programme exploring what an ageing society means for the city (facts), what the latter could become (ideas / scenarios), what can be done (actions / what is feasible) and what should be done (ideals). The programme stems from societal concerns in the province of Québec (Canada) regarding the rapid absolute and relative increase of people aged 65+ and 80+, and the projected impacts this will have on collective services, manpower, and public as well as private financial programmes such as pension funds. It specifically examines how these concerns and trends might transform the city, including housing, mobility patterns, activities, services and the spatial and material form of the urban matrix. The methodology includes, on the one hand, more traditional research methods such as policy and research reviews, survey data analysis, qualitative case studies, fine grain studies of person / environment interactions, and, on the other hand, participatory, trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial panels for scenario development and assessment. This presentation focuses on the wide variety of and numerous discrepancies in discourses and representations encountered in the process, and how old age is socially constructed through numerous power relationships shaping these representations and the interactions between discourses. The analysis confronts the discourses and representations of individuals, communities, experts and institutions in terms of what makes an age-friendly city. It illustrates the wide gap between normative discourse aimed at reforming and shaping the elderly through urbanism and the variety of ageing experiences, to the point that one must ask: “who needs age-friendly cities?” In conclusion, a word will be said on how participatory and trans-disciplinary research can contribute to reducing this gap and innovate in how we approach age-friendly cities.