Topic: Do older Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) people interact with outdoor spaces in culturally specific ways?”

Day: Thursday 22 October 2020

Time:  1:50pm-2:10pm AEDT


Australian demographic changes over the last 50 years has seen an increase in the proportion of both older people and people who were born overseas. These changes require us to think about how we design for an older more culturally diverse population. The way that older CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) people interact with communities, urban spaces, streetscapes, parks and open spaces in culturally specific ways has a large bearing on whether they remain active as they age. In Australia for example different ethnic groups create their own culturally significant backyard spaces. British migrants enjoy gardening and entertaining in backyards, whereas preferences for Vietnamese and Macedonian migrants show a strong inclination to be active with children in the backyard. Italian, Greek and other European migrants use open space and gardens to create palettes for growing fruit and vegetables. These varieties of built and designed settings differ dramatically and because of this outdoor spaces whether they be in an ageing in place scenario, a public space such as a local park or in a community or an aged care facility should focus on the users and their cultural background. Spaces will not be used if they do not appeal to the user and non-use is more likely to occur when there is a negative perception regarding racial and/or cultural exclusion. The use and creation of areas that are appealing to older CALD people enable them to age actively, to be autonomous, participate, interact and engage in communities. While older CALD people do interact and perceive spaces differently designers generally do not consider this a major factor in the design of facilities that cater for older people. To entice, excite and engage older CALD people the built environment needs to be understandable to them, while still being multifaceted, this enables interaction, motivation enthusiasm and a sense of belonging, this becomes even more important as cognitive skills diminish (Cassarino and Setti 2016). This multifaceted environment can be created by having a mix of functions and uses which then leads to both recreation spaces and social interaction opportunities. (Cheng et al 2019). Designers and planners with the knowledge of these multifaceted environments can specifically design for and provide appropriate functions and elements that allow for older CALD people to age actively. Having the ability to understand culturally specific interactions will enable designers and planners in the future to create appropriate, enticing, and accessible spaces


Grant Donald is an Australian Master Planner and Landscape Architect with a Master’s degree in Ageing from Melbourne University. Grant’s approach to designing open spaces for older people see him as one of the world’s most innovative designers in this field. As Creative Director of Silk Tree International he champions the use of open space, the public realm and parks to promote Active Ageing for older people. Grant is a nominated expert for the International Federation of Ageing and the International Federation of Landscape Architects. His theories focus on culturally appropriate design for these spaces and has seen him lecture and work in the UK, USA, China and Australia. Grants capstone research paper for his Master’s degree was titled “Do older Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) people interact with outdoor spaces in culturally specific ways?” and was lauded for being a unique way of approaching design for older CALD populations.