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Disentangling Eudaemonia-focused Design as a Means of Flourishing Curation

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Architecture & Planning, Topic: Health & Well-being, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Jenna Mikus

The connection between humans and their homes is one that has been documented for centuries. However, the extent to which our built environments impact human physical, mental, and social health was not fully understood by the general public until the COVID-19 pandemic made this topic one of necessity and, therefore, everyday discourse. One group that was impacted most extremely by the pandemic was the older adult community. The loneliness epidemic that had begun pre-COVID was exacerbated by widespread quarantine mandates—ones especially common in countries like Australia. This older demographic needed not only to occupy home environments that supported their needs and desires but also to be meaningfully engaged during these isolating times. This presentation shares findings based on PhD research conducted in Australia in 2021, at a time when older adults were experiencing isolation during still-prevalent periods of lockdown throughout the country. It explores how intentional and fun creative activities were conducted virtually with older adults at home to engage participants remotely for the purpose of disentangling complex subjects relating to Human Building Interaction (specifically, older adult occupants, homes, and smart home technologies) and the emotional aspects of past, present, and desired future homes. The research was based on the premise of designing for the positive psychology construct of Aristotle’s eudaemonia—an interpretation of flourishing health, synonymous with being one’s best self—by considering an idyllic thriving future in addition to the tenets of self-determination theory, namely autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The art of exploring tangible design activities while considering eudaemonia leisurely at home resulted in the older adults identifying eudaemonic home design principles as planned as well as experiencing unexpected motivation, making improvements in their spaces and lives. The research contributes to knowledge about architectural design elements that cultivate flourishing health and well-being at home but also informs design praxis—underscoring how intentional design done even virtually has the potential to uncomplicate abstract or delicate subject matter, improve research and design experiences and prompt the realisation of people’s best selves.

KEYWORDS: eudaemonia, health, well-being, built environments, architecture, smart buildings, co-design, creative methods, inclusive design

RSD TOPIC(S): RSD: Architecture & Planning, RSD: Health & Well-Being, RSD: Methods & Methodology

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Citation Data

Author(s): Jenna Mikus
Year: 2023
Title: Disentangling Eudaemonia-focused Design as a Means of Flourishing Curation
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
URL: https://rsdsymposium.org/eudaemonia-focused-design
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: April 17, 2024
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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