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UrbAging - Designing urban space for an ageing society



Acebillo J.



The study focuses on the urban planning implications of demographic trends in Switzerland and the associated demands placed on the built environment by an ageing population. Demographic forecasts predict a sharp rise in the number of elderly citizens, with the 65-plus age group expected to account for a quarter of the Swiss population by 2040. This is very likely to spawn problems relating to the design of the built environment, which is primarily geared to the needs of families and the working population.

The project sets out to gauge the extent to which developed public spaces and associated amenities are able to satisfy the needs of older generations. The findings will then be used to develop strategies and project proposals aimed at giving greater weight to the needs of the elderly in urban design and planning processes. The project will also facilitate an estimate of the associated costs.

The project will focus on two urban centres: the Lugano conurbation in Ticino and the town of Uster in Canton Zurich.The first step will involve detailed analyses of public spaces and amenities. A comparison will then be made, for the two regions, with the geographical data on the elderly population to evaluate their ease of access to the provided amenities. Allowance will also be made for future demographic trends. Interviews will then be conducted with focus groups to establish needs, forms of use and the satisfaction of elderly people with regard to public spaces and amenities. Finally, the results will be discussed with municipal representatives, planning officers and the target group.


The project findings will allow the development of planning solutions aimed at adapting the built environment to the present and future needs of an ageing population. The project is therefore of immediate relevance to current debates on the function and remodelling of public spaces.

Additional information

Start date
End date
24 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / NRP - National Research Programmes