The Municipality of Rotterdam commissioned our team of social designers and architects to conduct a design research project focused on the living environment of senior citizens.

Our objective was to actively involve the target group in developing opportunities for social and physical interventions in their senior citizen complex. These interventions aimed to invite the residents to interact each other and their surroundings.


Den Hoogenban, a residential care location owned by housing corporation Habion, is situated in Rotterdam’s Overschie district and caters to residents requiring psychogeriatric and somatic care. The residents live autonomously while receiving care services from Laurens zorg.


During our Expedition we went through a comprehensive process that entailed field research, framing and reframing, co-creation with the target group and development of prototypes and future scenarios. All proposals are inspired by the input of the residents of the senior citizen complex and their living environment

Field research
Our research process involved extensive field research and co-creation with the senior citizens and their surroundings. To map out the routines, preferences, and wishes of the residents and others involved, we used developed visual research tools that we utilized during our conversations with them.

We then translated the collected themes into interactive work forms and tested and improved them in collaboration with the senior citizens during a co-creation session.

Festive gathering
Based on the most important ingredients, we created physical and social interventions that were presented during a festive gathering. The senior citizens had the opportunity to indicate which interventions aligned with their wishes using stickers and an accessible feedback form.

The presented outcomes of our research process are as follows:

reception area

Using a cube concept, we developed a new reception area with multiple functions. The cubes are mobile, modular, and can be arranged according to your personal preferences. They include a reading block, information block, welcome block, sitting block, and coffee block.

Future scenario

We visualized a potential future scenario with a variety of ideas, wishes, and needs. This scenario included a podium, an extension table surrounding a tree, a round table, an activity board, green plants, and a reception area, among other features.

Social intervention

The previous reception at Den Hoogenban provided visitors with a familiar face and a permanent point of contact for residents and stakeholders. Since this has been missed, we conducted an experiment that allows everyone to act as a host.

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The designs were well received by the target group. The majority felt that their wishes were reflected in them. Furthermore, the designs are adaptable to changing needs and desires. The employees and managers of Den Hoogenban have already taken ownership of the cube concept, basing its current function on resident use.

Despite changing physical and mental capabilities, the seniors desire to maintain influence on their living environment, even in small ways. By using visual tools and having conversations with the seniors, we were able to map out their preferences, even with those who needed psychogeriatric care and had difficulty communicating. This demonstrated their capacity to have influence on their surroundings and participate in the design of their environment.

We presented our conclusions, along with a detailed documentation of our process and recommendations, to the municipality through a report and presentation. You can find the report here.

“It’s great to see how much impact you can have with simple interventions. It’s also good to see what the residents respond to.”
“I would like to have a session like this more often. It's nice to hear what's going on.”

"I visit my mother every week or two. If it fits at that moment, I would like to welcome people at the new reception for half an hour.” 
Daughter of
a resident
What's next?

My goal is to expand and refine this research process through collaborations with senior citizen complexes, making it widely applicable.

Additionally, it is important to explore feasible actions and interventions based on the outcomes, which can be implemented in the constantly evolving healthcare landscape.

To achieve this, we are looking for clients and cooperation partners. Would you like to join us on this Expedition? Please get in touch.

Expeditie 55+ is a design research project by: Social designers Jip van de Beek and Willemieke van den Brink-Gouwentak (echter ontwerp) and architect and researcher Birgit Jürgenhake (Over Ruimte) in collaboration with spatial designer Rashid Rasidi (StudioHA).

In collaboration with housing corporation Habion, care facility Laurens, and residential care location Den Hoogenban.

This project was made possible by the Municipality of Rotterdam.