Publications / 2020 Proceedings of the 37th ISARC, Kitakyushu, Japan

Exploring Gerontechnology for Aging-Related Diseases in Design Education: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

Rongbo Hu, Thomas Linner, Marc Schmaitzl, Jörg Güttler, Yuan Lu and Thomas Bock
Pages 735-742 (2020 Proceedings of the 37th ISARC, Kitakyushu, Japan, ISBN 978-952-94-3634-7, ISSN 2413-5844)

Aging society is not only a crisis in the developed world but also a severe challenge in some emerging economies. However, the awareness of population aging and gerontechnology is far from sufficiently addressed in the architectural design education in universities. Therefore, an interdisciplinary approach in design education is urgently needed to raise the awareness of the aging crisis among the future architects, interior designers, and beyond. This article introduces a novel model of a design seminar offered by a German University, addressing population aging issues in the architecture department. The syllabus, formality, and the expected results of the seminar are revealed in detail. The participants are encouraged to apply interdisciplinary knowledge such as barrier-free architecture, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, robotics, medicine, psychology, and business to achieve the goals of the seminar. Based on the originality and degree of completion, several students' works are selected and reported, targeting a variety of diseases or syndromes related to aging, such as dementia, immobility, and tremors. Overall, participants of this seminar are motivated and have positive feedback on this seminar, oftentimes claiming that they have seldom studied similar topics in previous architecture education. This enables students from architecture as well as other fields to be better prepared to tackle the upcoming challenges such as labor shortages and infectious diseases in a rapidly aging world. Furthermore, the seminar creates novel concepts that serve as a win-win "honeypot" for both students and their instructors, potentially sparking research topics and start-ups with concepts fostered in this seminar.

Keywords: Aging-related diseases; Bauhaus 2.0; COVID-19; Dementia; Design education; Gerontechnology; Interdisciplinary