Master of Fine Arts
MOTIVATION: There’s no place like home. Technological advances are now allowing us to live and work from anywhere. Spatial divides are disappearing through remote connections, creating a dispersion of the nuclear family, traditionally the prevailing caregivers for seniors. Older adults are projected to outnumber children under eighteen by 2034, a first in U.S. history (Census Bureau, 2019). This is not specific to America; “globally the population is aging. Since 1980, the number of people aged over 60 has more than doubled in size and is projected to do so again by 2050 to 2.1 billion” (United Nations, 2017).
ISSUE: There exists a clearly overlooked opportunity to address this desire to age in place and the coming caregiver shortage: interior design. Often a liaison between architects, builders, and clients, interior designers could be the missing advocate for integrated technologies automating activities of daily life for meaningful environmental, financial, health, and social implications as this demographic shifts into their later years offered by longer life expectancies. Automation allows for more time to engage in meaningful physical activities, self care and relationships to encourage successful longevity while mitigating many of the risks of living alone into old age.
APPROACH: This investigation will focus on human-centered smart technologies specific to a person, a home, and a community in combination with adaptable building solutions to allow a house to safely support independence as long as possible. Creating a scenario for seniors to remain active contributors in their lives will continue “helping retain connections to the past, and obtain enhanced relational wellbeing in later life and nourishment from place” (Creaney, R., Reid, L., & Currie, M., 2021).
RESULTS: A “Smart Inn” will be developed to explore smart technologies aiming to alleviate hesitations through first-hand experiences and shift the focus towards an approachable adoption of customizable devices. Combined with adaptable, efficient design solutions, guests will be invited to re-imagine their “later years”, leaving with new confidence to integrate automation into their own homes, allowing them to age in place. An educational vacation where the foreign becomes the familiar. The Inn will consist of nine suites with generous common areas designed to encourage neighborliness and interaction with other guests and the surrounding local community. Sited in a notoriously progressive convivial residential neighborhood will allow a safe, supportive environment to try something new, for just a night, a weekend, or an extended stay up to a month. The neighborhood is adjacent to parks, trails, outdoor sports and exercise facilities. Utilizing these amenities in addition to home gym innovations will model healthy habits. The proven benefits and successful use of physical activity interventions to ward off declines that accompany the aging process.
CONCLUSIONS: The “Smart Inn” will address questions of how artificial intelligence, environmental sensors, and related technologies can optimize social interactions and will best elevate the quality of life for seniors and their caregivers when applied in the built environment and become significant solutions to “the considerable costs involved in the care of an aging population and the perennial shortage of healthcare professionals” (Gochoo, Alnajjar, Tan, & Khalid, 2021).
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