International & Interdisciplinary Design Charrette Brings Together Students and Scholars for the Design of Elder-friendly Outdoor Environments


From January 17 to 26 CARTA’s Department of Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design (LAEUD) hosted an international and interdisciplinary design charrette that focused on open space design for the elder members of our community.

The ‘Senior-friendly Outdoor Furniture Design Challenge’ brought together 30 students and faculty from five different universities and four different disciplines. A group of 14 students and faculty from Turkey’s leading architectural colleges (Karadeniz Technical University, Istanbul Technical University, Trakya University, and Bilkent University) traveled to Miami for the 10-day-long design charrette. The visiting students worked together with FIU Landscape Architecture Graduate Design 2 and FIU Interior Architecture Graduate Design 4 students to develop innovative design strategies to make Miami’s newly proposed linear park, The Underline, a more elder friendly destination. The students were tasked to design outdoor spaces with senior-friendly furnishings to increase utilization by older adults and to promote social interaction across generations.

Organized by FIU LAEUD Associate Professor Ebru Ozer, the charrette aimed to promote interdisciplinary design thinking and young designers’ awareness of age-friendly design. Over the course of 10 days, the participants listened to the lectures from expert geriatricians, physical therapists, urban planners, and architects in order to learn universal design principles and also to master body conscious design theories. Participating lecturers and their lecture topics were:

Allan De La Torre, Ph.D., Research Associate, Institute on Aging, Portland State University – Age-friendly Communities & Design

Edgar Ramos Vieira, P.T., Ph.D., Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program Director, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy & Neuroscience, FIU – Mobility issues in aging

Galen Cranz, Ph.D., AmSAT, NSTAT, Professor, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley – Body Conscious Design

Meg Daly, Founder and President, Friends of the Underline – The Underline, 10-mile linear park, urban trail, and living art destination

Paulo Chaves, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Benjamin Leon Center for Geriatrics Research and Education, FIU – Health Status of Older Populations

Sara Valente & Marcelo Ertorteguy, Adjunct Professors, Department of Architecture, FIU – StereoTank 

After the first day’s field trip to the project site, the students were divided into six interdisciplinary teams.  Each team tackled different problems an older adult may experience while using The Underline, and created innovative design solutions that make their experiences more desirable. Some of the proposals included adding special seating options that engage older adults with art or gardening, while others focused on addressing noise pollution and safety through artful lighting and water features. At the conclusion of each charrette day, each team presented their progress work to a panel of professors, which included Arzu Kalin and Emrah Yalcinalp of Karadeniz Technical University, Muhammed Ali Ornek of Istanbul Technical University, Galen Cranz of University of California at Berkeley, and Ebru Ozer and Newton DeSouza of FIU. The student groups received questions and feedback following their presentations and delivered their final work to panelists on January 26 with a PechaKucha presentation.


TEAM 1 – U4

Busra Elmas, Martha Salazar, Michael Bradley, Vivian Taboada

TEAM 2 – Inclusive Sensory Playground

Gül Cicim, Nina Laguna, Olivia Bussey, Sirri Kurukiz

TEAM 3 – Journey to Sunset

Anthony Rodriguez, Cemre Orhan, Taylor Price, Zeynep Topcu

TEAM 4 – Cognitive, Energetic Stimulation

Ali Yurdusever, Andrew Sykes, Moises Valcarcel Gonzalez, Tunahan Turan

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