Going along with older people: exploring age-friendly neighbourhood design through their lens

  • Sidse CarrollEmail author
  • Astrid Pernille Jespersen
  • Jens Troelsen


Neighbourhoods are extremely important to older people, as this is where a great deal of their everyday life is spent and where social interaction happens. This is particularly the case in deprived neighbourhoods, where people with limited economic resources or physical limitations find it challenging to venture outside the neighbourhood. A growing body of research suggests studying age-friendly neighbourhoods from a bottom-up approach which takes the diversity of the age group into account. This paper aims to investigate how the go-along method can serve to co-construct knowledge about age-friendly neighbourhood design in a deprived neighbourhood of Copenhagen with a diverse group of older people. Sixteen go-along interviews were carried out with older people aged 59–90. The participants took on an expert role in their own everyday life and guided the researcher through the physical and social environments of their neighbourhood. The go-alongs were documented with a GoPro camera. The data was analysed using situational analysis and was grouped into thematic categories. Our findings conclude that social interaction is the overall motivator for going outdoors and that dimensions of pavements, the seating hierarchy, the purpose of lawns, sheltered spaces and ‘unauthorised’ places are all neighbourhood design elements that matter in this regard. The findings suggest to consider age-friendly details as the starting point for social interaction, to target the appropriate kind of age-friendly programs and to enhance empowerment through physical spaces. The go-along interview as a research method holds the potential for empowering older people and appreciating their diversity.


Age-friendly neighbourhoods Empowerment Go-along interviews Neighbourhood design Older people Social interaction 



We thank the two housing associations for their enthusiastic collaboration as well as the participants for sharing their experiences. We thank the (APEN/Move the Neighbourhood) research team that have collaborated on the overall research setup and provided insight and expertise that greatly assisted the project: (Rene Kural & Kamilla Nørtoft, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Bettina Lamm, Anne Wagner & Laura Winge, University of Copenhagen and Charlotte Skau Pawlowski & Tanja Schmidt, University of Southern Denmark. This research was supported by Områdefornyelsen Sydhavnen, The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities, The Velux Foundations, and TrygFonden.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Architecture, Urbanism and LandscapeThe Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design, and ConservationCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.Copenhagen Centre for Health Research in the Humanities (CoRe), The Saxo-InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark
  3. 3.Research Unit for Active Living, Department of Sports Science and Clinical BiomechanicsUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark

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