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Design Guidelines for a Lifespan Community (2009)


The Director of the Center on Aging and Community at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (University of Indiana)created five design principles for helping to plan for livable communities. The principles were derived from findings based on Evergreen, a research project conducted in Bloomington, Indiana. Community planners and local government officials can use these design principles to guide their own planning efforts in the creation of communities where people can grow up and grow old.

Key Points

The five design principles are:

  • Neighborliness
  • An environment for growth, learning and autonomy
  • Apositive image of the environment
  • Diverse housing options
  • A community for all ages.

Each principle is explained in detail,followed by design responses.Design responses are ways to implement the principle in practice. For example, neighborliness is the strengthening of community through neighbors and friends interdependent and committed to the neighborhood. Design responses include the creation of foils for conversation, attention to windows so that there are more “eyes on the street” (promoting safety and interaction), common neighborhood facilities, a neighborhood scrapbook, orienting housing so that front doors face each other, amongst others. Each principle has practical application with examples that are helpful in the planning process.

How to Use

Community planners and local leaders should use the document as a theoretical guideline and as a resource for ideas in order to help implement design principles in their own localities. These principles can also be used as a foundation upon which to build for brainstorming livability solutions in the planning process. Finally, the design responses listed help the community planner and local leader know which livability practices can easily be implemented.

View full report: Design Guidelines for a Lifespan Community (2009) (PDF – 1.4 MB)

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