Workshop “Ageing in the City“

27th-30th September, 2019

The student workshop “Ageing in the City“ by Prof. Christiane Brosius and Prof. Arunava Dasgupta took place from 27th-30th September at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in New Delhi in frame of the DAAD-project “New directions in ‘Active Ageing‘ and ‘Age-friendly Culture‘ in India and Germany“. Twenty master and PhD-students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), SPA and Heidelberg University (HU) engaged in questions related to the ‘age-friendly city’ in an inter- and transdisciplinary approach, focusing on how people age in place in the context of rapid urban transformation in India.

The workshop was opened by Prof. Brosius presenting concepts of and research on “Ageing in the City”, with a focus on her research in Patan/Nepal, Prof. Dasgupta speaking on the challenges in designing an age-friendly city from the Delhi perspective, and Dr. Constanze Weigl-Jäger introducing the “Active Ageing” project’s aims and activities. Students’ presentations of the key readings followed by plenary discussions dealt with topics such as urbanization from an ageing perspective, urban development and ageing populations, and methodology from an urban perspective (e.g. street ethnography). In the afternoon session the fieldwork scheduled for the following two days was designed, discussed and prepared by setting up the teams, the definition of field questions and the discussion of additional texts.

Mixed teams of JNU, HU and SPA students went to four very different sites across the Delhi capital region such as Madanpur Khadar, Dharampura/Old Delhi, Chittaranjan Park and Faridabad. Aim of the fieldwork was to create an intergenerational dialogue and to conduct interviews with elderly residents of these areas to examine how they engage and live at their place of the city. Topics of discussion amongst others were safety and well-being, participation and social interaction, and family care and community support. The fieldwork was supervised by the faculty from the Department of Urban Design at SPA and students from the urban lab on social urbanism.

At the last workshop day all workshop participants got together and the student teams presented and discussed their findings by combining and applying the reviewed conceptual approaches from readings with data and experiences from their field visits. Based on the diversity of the fieldsites the results related to the workshop’s key question how people age in place were very different. Madanpur Khadar (a low-income neighborhood marked by poverty and a high unemployment rate) and Dharampura (a Jain community residential area in Old Delhi with lots of commercial activities) could in terms of infrastructure and health services barely be described as age-friendly. In contrast, Chittaranjan Park (a neighborhood in South Delhi and home to a large middle-class Bengali community) and Ashok enclave (a gated community in Faridabad) provided good infrastructure for its elderly inhabitants and there was also a strong sense of community amongst them. The workshop closed with an intensive discussion of urbanization in New Delhi and its impact on its ageing population with the result that ageing in place is a highly differential experience for everyone.

Here you can download the program of the workshop.

Individual reports by students on their fieldwork can be downloaded here: