One of the critical issues in the intergenerational studies field is the lack of attention to how the physical environment plays a role in promoting, or inhibiting, intergenerational engagement. Whereas attention has been paid to the goal of creating "multi-generational" settings, where the physical environment is designed to accommodate the physical and psychological needs of people across the age and ability spectrum, there has been less consideration of ways to create environments that afford opportunities for meaningful engagement between members of different generations. This paper highlights several innovative accounts of designers actively planning and constructing physical environments that are responsive to intergenerational engagement goals. It is noted, however, that these examples tend to be localized, discipline specific, and site specific, and there is no integrated knowledge base addressing key issues tied to the design of intergenerational spatial environments. This paper aims to provide a common conceptual ground from which professionals from relevant disciplines can draw guidance when engaging in intergenerationally oriented environmental planning and design. A "conceptual matrix" is presented which relates intergenerational principles, design concepts, and illustrative applications. The matrix demonstrates how certain environmental design strategies and decisions have produced desired patterns of intergenerational exchange in various settings. This paper is intended to stimulate further inquiry and innovation regarding efforts to plan and construct physical environments that are responsive to intergenerational engagement goals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies