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Inclusive biophilic design for people living with dementia (PLWD)

   School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment

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  Dr Yangang Xing  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The World Health Organisation estimates the number of people living with dementia worldwide to be approximately 55 million, and the total societal cost of dementia to be $2.8 trillion, and this number is expected to grow with increases in life expectancy (WHO 2021). As yet there is no known cure, therefore the research focus remains on preventative and social approaches to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia, and support people living in their preferred home environment. Consequently, this presents a challenge for architects and engineers to design or retrofit accommodation to enable people to age well in a comfortable community.  

Depression, anxiety, and apathy are common in people living with dementia. These issues can exacerbate existing symptoms of dementia, and create issues with attention, motivation, and decision-making (Alzheimer’s Society, 2022). In turn, this impacts upon a person’s sense of well-being and their quality of life.   

 Biophilic design theorises that connection to the natural environment can reduce anxiety, stress, and improve motivation (Xing 2017, Thomas & Xing, 2021), and as such offers potential to improve living quality for people living with dementia. However, current evidence shows that people with dementia have limited access to outdoor space and therefore to the natural world (Argyle et al 2017). Biophilic design aims to create a direct connection with nature (e.g., views to nature, garden walks, indoor plants), nature analogues (e.g., landscape paintings), natural space and place conditions (e.g., navigation, prospect, and refuge) into the built environment. Personal differences may impact the perceptions of the biophilic designs. Therefore, sensory sensitivity, long term memories, cultural heritage and community all need to be considered.   

 Nottingham has high levels of deprivation and ranks 11th out of the 317 districts in England using the average score measure (Nottingham Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2022). Accessible and inclusive design is crucial for successful personalised biophilic design. This project will be centred around developing an inclusive design process in collaboration with Trent Bridge Community Trust, involving people living with dementia and their caregivers to develop a cost-effective biophilic therapeutic dementia friendly environment.   

This project has been co-created and is supported by researchers from Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and partners at the Trent Bridge Community Trust. The successful candidate for this project would be enrolled at Nottingham Trent University. 

Project Aims 

The aims of this study are to examine biophilic design in collaboration with services, with the potential to improve mental health and wellbeing of people living with dementia.

Project Supervisors

  • Dr Yangang Xing, NTU  
  • Dr Michael Craven, UoN   
  • Dr. Kyle Harrington, UoN
  • Dr Nigel Plant, Trent Bridge Community Trust 

What is Co(l)laboratory? 

Co(l)laboratory is pioneering new programme supported by Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the Universities for Nottingham partnership. The programme aims to bring together researchers, community-focused organisations and local citizens to deliver meaningful change for the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. All our studentships have been developed through collaborations between academics and local, community-focused organisations to shape the research projects around the priorities of local communities.   

Who are we looking for?  

Co(l)laboratory aims to bridge the gap between academia and communities through a holistic programme of co-created research that actively engages with public groups. As we work to build a different way of doing PhD research, we need candidates who are socially conscious and invested in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire communities to join us. If you are an inspired individual with practical experience and a passion for creating positive change, Co(l)laboratory can help you elevate your knowledge and skills and make a lasting impact. 

How to Apply 

Applications to all Co(l)laboratory 2023 PhD studentships must be submitted through through our online applications portal HERE. This also applies to Co(l)laboratory studentships which are hosted at the University of Nottingham. Applications open at 12pm on Thursday 22nd December 2023 and close at 12pm on Monday 6th February 2023. 

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