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Browsing by Author "Saari, Elli"

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  • Saari, Elli (2018)
    Urbanization and population ageing are megatrends of our time. We need a lot of new information concerning ageing and urbanization because cities are growing and the amount of the elderly in them is on the rise. Children were the focus of urban planning in the post-war era. The city was seen as an unsafe growing environment, and that led to the creation of suburbs. Nowadays, it is justified to ask, should the focus of urban planning be in drafting environments for the elderly since the age distribution is focused on them, too. This thesis is positioned in the intersection of ageing and urbanization and considers how urban design should respond to these challenges. Place attachment covers meaningful experiences relating to certain environment. Meaningful everyday environment encourages one to exercise as well as positively affects one’s mental well-being. In age-friendly city planning, place attachment is seen as a factor positively affecting active ageing and well-being. My thesis asks how ageing population becomes attached to places in the Helsinki metropolitan area, what role the environmental quality has in becoming attached to a place and are different demographics within the ageing population becoming attached to places in different ways. With these questions I evaluate whether or not the Helsinki metropolitan area is an environment that supports active ageing from the point of view of place attachment. This thesis is positioned within the discipline of humanistic geography, which dictates that environment is experienced through the meanings one has attached to it. Experiences of place attachment are examined within the age group of 55 to 75 years old in the Helsinki metropolitan area municipalities of Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen, and Vantaa. My analysis is based on qualitative data of Aktiivi research by Aalto University, which has been compiled with a map-based questionnaire using the PPGIS method (Public Participation Geographic Information System). My thesis uses a mixed methods approach. By analyzing the contents of the qualitative material I am evaluating which factors play a role in place attachment. I classify the features of place attachment in to five different categories: personal, social, aesthetic, functional, and atmospheric places. I evaluate these results with Pearson’s χ2-test to find out are there differences in how different demographics become attached to places. The most important results of my work can be summarized into four main points. Firstly, the work gives new structure to the phenomenon of place attachment on a new way theoretically. The model categorizes the components of the environmental quality into visible form. Based on the results, the main factors are functionality, personal elements, and aesthetics. Secondly, the numerous mentions relating to attributes of places (functionality, aesthetics) prove that the process of place attachment can be affected by the tools of planning. Urban planning can affect the aesthetics of environments as well as the possibilities they offer and in this way environments that support active ageing can be created. Thirdly, based on statistical analysis, the meaning on social environments was emphasized in the lowest income bracket whereas the meaning of aesthetic environments was emphasized among those with higher education degree. This suggests that there is a socio-economic dimension, which should be taken into account in urban planning. Fourthly, the results of this thesis strengthen the notion that PPGIS is a working tool for the planner when balancing between land use changes and conserving places. The strength of the study design is that it does not only ask which areas should be treasured, but also why they should be treasured. The Helsinki metropolitan area has good requirements for age-friendliness for now. The area can be planned in an age-friendly manner especially when considering the functional and aesthetic aspects of places. Additionally, it is vital to recognize the diversity of the ageing population and not to think of them as a homogenous group. PPGIS is one way to develop cities sensitively by listening to their inhabitants. The ageing inhabitants are experts in developing their everyday environment. In the future the discussion of age-friendly urban planning is going to focus on suburban areas since those areas are facing endeavors of densification and those are the areas the elderly wish to live.