Grey Smart Societies: Supporting the Social Inclusion of Older Adults by Smart Spatial Design

  • Nienke Moor
  • Masi MohammadiEmail author
Part of the S.M.A.R.T. Environments book series (SMARTE)


In this chapter, we explore the possibility to use the living environment (of inpatient and outpatient care settings) for facilitating and encouraging the social inclusion of older adults in an increasingly smart society. We therefore pay attention to the spatial and smart design of emerging housing typologies for older adults in the Netherlands in which social activities and encounters take place.

Our first explorative research question reads: To what extent can the social inclusion of older adults with physical and/or mental disabilities contribute to their well-being? Based on (sociological) theories and existing knowledge from the literature, we can conclude that there are sufficient indications that the social inclusion of senior citizens in society have positive effects on their well-being, by strengthening social resources, in the case of intimate ties, and by stimulating public familiarity and random encounters. Moreover, it can be argued that encounters between elderly people with (either physical or mental) disabilities and healthy others can have a positive influence on the social acceptance of the former.

Following on the above, our second research question examines which spatial and smart interventions in and around inpatient and outpatient care settings can stimulate social inclusion. In this light, we discussed two new housing typologies in the Netherlands that can positively affect the inclusion of senior citizens in society: Farm sharing, which is particularly suitable for vital older adults who want to live independently for as long as possible, and the Care Estate, that seems to be a suitable form of living for vulnerable elderly people with physical and mental comorbidity, such as dementia. These housing typologies demonstrate the existence of an interplay between spatial design and smart technologies, in the sense that these factors can make each other superfluous or can provide added value.

In order to be able to optimize the well-being and health status of their residents, housing typologies must meet the needs of (vulnerable) older adults with regard to care, and social interaction, autonomy as much as possible. The art of designing new suitable housing typologies for older adults therefore should be based on linking different layers of people’s living environment: the care environment, the socio-spatial environment, and the digital environment. The two examples of housing typologies that we cover in this chapter, demonstrate how these different layers can be interconnected in order to design a new suitable housing concept.


Emerging housing typologies Older adults Social inclusion Smart homes Smart neighbourhoods 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kivi Chair Architecture in HealthHAN University of Applied SciencesArnhemThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Chair Smart Architectural TechnologiesEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands

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