Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/235692
Title: Engaging the perception of older adults: An eye-tracking multi-sensory study of housing neighborhoods in Singapore
Authors: Trivic, Zdravko 
Issue Date: 22-Jul-2021
Citation: Trivic, Zdravko (2021-07-22). Engaging the perception of older adults: An eye-tracking multi-sensory study of housing neighborhoods in Singapore. 40th UIA-PHG 2021 Symposium, 27th UIA World Congress. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Associated sensory and cognitive declines accelerate with ageing and profoundly affect numerous aspects of older adults’ everyday functioning and their overall sense of well-being, including reduced mobility, higher risks of falling, challenges with spatial orientation, communication problems, decreased independence and confidence levels, and withdrawal from social interaction, among others. However, the contemporary urban environments tend to be either sensory overcharged or sensory deprived, neglecting to provide balanced and health-supportive positive stimulation. In the context of an increased ageing population, this paper explores and discusses the largely neglected relationships between the “hard” and “soft” aspects of housing neighbourhoods and urban experience, focusing on seniors’ perception and multi-sensory experience as vehicles for design and planning of healthful and age-friendly high-density housing neighbourhoods that are inclusive and empathetic yet build senior residents’ physical and mental abilities at different stages of ageing. It outlines a study of senior adults’ perception of their familiar living environments in order to provide an alternative multi-sensory approach to evaluation, design and planning of housing neighbourhoods that goes beyond universal design principles and provision of eldercare facilities. This study was conducted in two high-density Singaporean neighbourhoods and employed a combination of both exploratory and established, quantitative and qualitative methods. Methods include: 2 exploratory workshops (sensory journey and notation exercises with 50 architecture and urban design students), on-site documentation of “objective” quantitative sensory data (using personal multifunction meter), spatial snapshot analysis of sensory rhythms and daily activity patterns of senior residents in two neighbourhoods, 301 socio-perceptual surveys and eye-tracking journeys with 74 (58) local residents (majority of whom were older adults), accompanied by walk-along and post-walk interviews. A multi-sensory framework was developed to synthetise, cross-reference and visualise complex spatio-sensory rhythms and uncover key issues pertinent to ageing-friendly design originating from the seniors’ subjective bodily and emotional encounters with space. Key survey findings revealed residents’ concerns with walkability, wayfinding, safety, aesthetics, cleanliness, smell, crowdedness, noise and limited opportunities for inter-generational interaction. Eye-tracking revealed walking patterns, areas of visual interest and spatial features senior residents’ look at the most frequently, augmented by the qualitative narratives about specific segments of their walking experience. About 50% of time residents tend to look towards the ground. Such tendency significantly increases with age, possibly due to body posture and safety concerns (fear of falls), but also due to a lack of positive stimulation. Overall, multi-sensory assessment showed capacities to identify numerous ageing and health related issues and inform empathetic and context-specific ageing-friendly neighbourhood design. This is the first eye-tracking study to investigate senior adults’ perception in Singapore, and one of the rare such studies in outdoor ‘real-world’ settings world-wide, as most of such studies are done in indoor controlled conditions. Although not without technical challenges, eye-tracking proved to be fruitful innovative means for capturing and articulating the subjective sensory and emotional encounters with familiar outdoor settings in an active, participatory and embodied manner. (477 words) Keywords Age-friendly neighbourhoods; Health-supportive environment; Eye-tracking; Multi-sensory approach; High-density built environment
Source Title: 40th UIA-PHG 2021 Symposium, 27th UIA World Congress
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/235692
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