Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Ageing and the Built Environment in Singapore

Belinda Yuen




Adapting urban spaces to a rapidly ageing population is an important task for many countries. It’s particularly urgent in Singapore, where the population aged 65+ is projected to double by 2030, to 25 per cent.

Ageing and the Built Environment in Singapore uses data from surveys, interviews, a workshop, a housing audit, a mobile app, and other sources to build a picture of ageing in Singapore, and offer suggestions for making Singapore more age-friendly. This research was intended to be participatory and immersive. Asking older residents to take photos of the built environment with their smartphones, for instance, gave them control over documenting obstacles and solutions to mobility.

One finding across the chapters is that immediate neighbourhoods are especially important to older people, who don’t range as far from home as younger people. Thus, nearby open spaces are important for recreation and physical activity, and siting facilities close to areas populated by many older people increases the likelihood that they will be able to participate in community life.

As most Singaporeans live in public housing, and the proportion of one-person households is growing quickly, there’s potential to improve the facilities in and around housing estates. This could include allocating space for food markets, healthcare facilities (including traditional Chinese medicine clinics), green spaces, etc. The research also points to the importance of inclusive infrastructure, such as sheltered ramps (especially useful for people with mobility difficulties) and well-lit parks (especially useful for people with limited vision).

While many of the seniors participating in the research expressed similar desires – to age in place, in homes they owned, and in proximity to friends, family and useful facilities – it would have been useful to gain more information on the varied lifestyles and aspirations of different ethnic, income and migration-status groups. Overall, though, this book offers a useful snapshot of urban ageing in a country whose small size and state resources may make it easier to implement the recommendations made here.


Further reading:

Loukaitou-Sideris, Anastasia, Lené Levy-Storms and Madeline Brozen (2014), Placemaking for an Aging Population: Guidelines for Senior-Friendly Parks, UCLA Complete Streets Initiative, available at https://www.lewis.ucla.edu/publication/placemaking-for-an-aging-populati....

Ministry of Health, Singapore (2014), Creating Senior-Friendly Communities: Tips and Tools from the City for All Ages Project, available at https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/Publications/educational_res....

Tacoli, Cecilia and Richard Mabala (2010), “Exploring mobility and migration in the context of rural–urban linkages: why gender and generation matter”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 22, No 2, pages 389–395, available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0956247810379935.


Book note prepared by Christine Ro

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