The landscape design preferences of older people

dc.contributor.authorGignoux, Leslie Congeren
dc.contributor.departmentLandscape Architectureen
dc.description.abstractWhat are the landscape style preferences of older people? What are the preferred outdoor activities of older people? In this study I want to raise the issue of how the external environment is aesthetically perceived, and how we as designers might facilitate the user’s needs in design. In order to incorporate user needs into a design program we must first develop methods to identify user needs. There is not a body of literature that identifies the landscape design preferences of older people. So it has been the major aim of this study to develop a process by which these preferences can be identified and utilized in a landscape plan. It has also been a primary goal of this study to work with a particular group of older people; to become familiar with them; to build a rapport; to observe behavioral patterns; and to allow the residents to contribute their ideas to the development of a landscape plan. The research methods employed were geared to encourage resident participation in the design process and to determine aesthetic preferences. The Wheatland Hills retirement center was selected for the study because it was a newly constructed facility with supportive residents and management. The residents were primarily educated, ambulatory, white, middle class females from rural and urban backgrounds living in an age-segregated congregate care facility. The first method of inquiry utilized environmental modelling techniques adapted for the sample. Since the residents were familiar with their site, a landscape design workshop was developed that would allow for a maximum amount of idea generating. On pre-constructed cardboard models, the residents were asked to create their ideal landscape. They worked in four teams ranging in size from 3-6people. Sixteen of the forty residents participated in the landscape design workshop. The results from the landscape design workshop were indicated on the four models. Therefore a system of landscape styles and design categories (LSDC) was developed for the study. From each model, the LSDC system was used to interpret significant design patterns. The checklist (Figure 63) indicated major programming preferences and ideas. Strong circulation and activity areas were denoted in one model. Strong planting design schemes were denoted in a second model. The third model addressed programming on all areas of the site, and the fourth model showed a strong native planting scheme. The second method was employed to determine landscape style preferences — the aesthetic concerns. A visual preference testing technique was adapted for the sample using the LSDC system. Forty-two images representing six landscape styles and seven design categories were shown in slide form first to the twenty participating residents. The residents then manually selected their favorite use of a landscape style from each design category, isolating the favorite print. The visual preference survey indicated that the most popular landscape style was the French-Italian formal landscape (Figure 74). Within the design categories of "water", "private space", "public space" and "plants for color", the favorite selection was the formal landscape. In two design categories; "plants in the built environment" and "pathways", the residents preferred the English cottage Landscape. And in the design category of "overall design", they preferred the conventional institutional landscape. The information generated from these two research methods points to a more complete visual and functional picture of what the residents prefer in their landscape. As designers, we must not only interpret user needs on a programming level, but we must also consider the landscape aesthetic, the preferred style. The resulting conceptual landscape plan (Figure 76) has incorporated the preferred elements from both methods. It was found that the residents preferred to view a series of controlled outdoor planting habitats sandwiched between programmed activity rooms. This illustrates their need to extend the building into the landscape — to create a series of rooms that are easily accessible, yet have their purpose. These rooms are to hold a badminton court, or a chain swing. They want wide paths to accommodate two people or a wheelchair. They want to see native plant materials such as the dogwood and rhododendron. They want to see pretty pastel colors from their window, rather than bright red, yellow or blue. They want scented gardens, spring gardens, rock gardens and aquatic gardens, and most importantly they want the programmed space to get them there safely. Then they want to be able to sit and admire the pretty landscape and their friends using the next door space. This study has employed two innovative research methods for the purpose of creating a more whole design. The conceptual landscape plan that has evolved from this study is dynamic and designed for a specific user group. There is no doubt that the methods used could be applied to other user groups, and there is no doubt that the results might change significantly based on the differences of the group. Yet the process of this inquiry has yielded information that can be applied to design.en
dc.description.degreeMaster of Landscape Architectureen
dc.format.extentxv, 146 leavesen
dc.publisherVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen
dc.relation.isformatofOCLC# 17499537en
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectWheatland Hills Retirement Centeren
dc.subject.lccLD5655.V855 1987.G546en
dc.subject.lcshRetirement communities -- Virginia -- Radford -- Designs and plansen
dc.subject.lcshGardening for older peopleen
dc.subject.lcshLandscape architecture -- Public opinionen
dc.titleThe landscape design preferences of older peopleen
dc.type.dcmitypeTexten Architectureen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Landscape Architectureen


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