Sensing the built environment: Documenting residents' experience of the sensory landscape in supportive housing

May 30, 2023

Squires, S., Herrera, A., Walsh, C., & Grittner, A. (May, 2023). Sensing the Built Environment: Documenting Residents' Experience of the Sensory Landscape in Supportive Housing [paper presentation]. Uncommon Senses IV, Montreal, QC.  


As part of the Aging in the Right Place (AIRP) research study investigating older adults’ experiences of supportive housing (SH), an interdisciplinary team of researchers evaluated the built environments in relationship with the lived experience of residents in three SH shelters in Calgary, Alberta. Previous research within the sensory studies field articulates the role of sensory experiences in supporting the well-being of shelter residents, yet little attention has been directed at older shelter consumers who have unique needs. Using environmental audits, a tool to assess the built environment, and photovoice interviews, a participatory action research strategy in which participants take photos and share stories associated with their photography, we explored residents’ experiences of AIRP. Combining findings, these methodologies highlighted a variety of sensory aspects, particularly noise, light, clutter, and aesthetics, and how they play a role in the well-being of older shelter residents. In this presentation we elucidate the importance of sensory aspects of the built environment in contributing to the well-being of older SH shelter residents.