Aging | Global Ageing News | Global Aging | October 24, 2018

Co-Creating Environments: Empowering Elders and Strengthening Communities Through Design

BY Shannon Davis

Emi Kiyota, a Global Ageing Network board member, submitted a short essay in a Hastings Center report focusing on “Co-Creating Environments: Empowering Elders and Strengthening Communities Through Design.”


Working with elders around the world has taught me that those living in grass huts in Africa with children at their feet are often happier than people in assisted‐living homes with a chandelier over their heads. My work in design consultancy and in 15 years of running a nonprofit, Ibasho, that aims to co‐create socially integrated and sustainable communities that value their elders has allowed me to learn much about how architects and designers can contribute to helping people live a good life in late life. People often need supportive services or other adaptations as they age, but do they really need—or want—the luxury environment few are accustomed to? The challenge for architects and designers is not to create a built environment whose carefully curated facades hide lives of quiet desperation. It is to help elders access the support they need without upending their lives or severing virtually all ties to their communities.

For the entire essay and other essays on aging and bioethics, please visit