BESiDE – The Built Environment for Social Inclusion in the Digital Economy 

BESiDE (The Built Environment for Social Inclusion in the Digital Economy) is a multidisciplinary research project that aims to address a significant knowledge gap in relation to the design of the built environment to encourage mobility and enhance the life experiences of older people. I am a Researcher Co-Investigator and Architectural research-lead on BESiDE.

The core concept and methodological framework for BESiDE stemmed from my PhD which investigated the phenomena of human way-finding within the context of public spaces, across a range of visual impairment. Through identifying the enabling and disabling components of architecture my broad research interest is on how digital technologies, prototypes and HCI methods have the potential to enable, support, enhance and define understanding of human-interaction, across a spectrum of needs, within architectural contexts.   Within BESiDE, my research interest is in gathering rigorous evidence (from both qualitative and quantitative sources) to aid architect’s understanding of what enables and disables older people’s wellbeing, physical activity, mobility and social connectivity within the context of Care Homes.  My key areas of focus include exploring factors of the built environment in relation to ageing, mobility, wellbeing, social connectedness and independence. My research is driven by working with the range of stakeholders in BESiDE (ranging from the residents and staff of care homes to architects and policy makers) and in refining methods of working with different types of users.

BESiDE investigates how older people are currently marginalised from society. Collaboration across disciplines of Computing, Architecture, Healthcare and Design is driving this research forward. The collective objective is to enhance wellbeing, support active ageing and create independence in older people within the context of the built environment.



Undertaken with care home and architecture partners, this research will analyse the holistic design insight gained from evaluating the physical environment coupled with older person’s experience of their surroundings. Methods of interviews, observations, and critical analyses from stakeholder interaction coupled with data from personal and ambient sensors will converge evidence focused on the research question. These data will be used, in conjunction with floor plans of the project partner care homes to understand and define care home design elements that enable mobility.

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Economic, health, and ethical considerations all demand that the built environment be structured to support older adults in maintaining their quality of life long after transitioning to a care home environment. Understanding how to create such environments remains a key challenge facing architects and designers. We are carrying out research in care homes to tackle this challenge.  We are giving a voice to the users of these environments, measuring physical activity in relation to health, and tracing and modelling movement within the homes to generate new research knowledge and transfer that knowledge into professional practices.

Find out what I am currently up to at BESiDE including my interviews with architects, conversations with care home staff and upcoming plans for observations in the care homes to ground sensor data in context.

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Funding: This work is supported by the RCUK Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Programme grant number EP/K037293/1 – BESiDE: The Built Environment for Social Inclusion in the Digital Economy.