Public space for the needs of the elderly in large housing estates in Slovenia

EU Program / Principal / Funder etc.:

Project lifespan:
2020 - 2023

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About project:

The problem of population aging is so severe that it has become an important topic in many areas, including in living and spatial planning. In case of Slovenia, this is particularly highlighted by two characteristics. First, Slovenia is characterized by high ownership occupancy of dwellings. After independence, extremely radical privatization of the former state-owned rental housing was carried out, and Slovenians became “superowners” (Stephenson 2003, cited in Mandič 2011). According to Mandič (2011), 96% of Slovenians over sixty-five own their apartments or houses. With age, and especially after the age of eighty, the share of homeowners even increases. On the other hand, during communism, housing construction was focused on building large, concentrated housing estates. In Slovenia, 40% of large housing estates are buildings that were built between 1946 and 1985 (Malešič 2014). Due to rapid industrialization and, consequently, urbanization, however, cities faced a chronic lack of housing after the Second World War. The countries of central and eastern Europe rapidly built up working-class neighborhoods in order to address the scarcity of housing due to large migration of the rural population to cities where it was easier to find a source of income. The urban plans envisaged that young and healthy people would live in these large housing estates, and therefore the public space in these neighborhoods was adapted to their needs (Železnik 2017). Because Slovenia is characterized by low housing mobility (Mandič 2015), and because the residents had the option to buy their rental apartments after independence, the majority of the first residents still live in large housing estates. As a result, the age structure of these large housing estates has changed considerably; their residents have grown old, but the public space in these large housing estates is still adapted for younger and healthy people, as planned, rather than for the needs of the elderly. This reduces the quality of life of the elderly, increases the risk of their social exclusion, and reduces the possibility of their active involvement in the community and the local environment. This is particularly worrying because the elderly would like to remain in their home environment as long as possible, where they will be capable of leading their lives as independently as possible with the best possible quality of life, which is also confirmed by a number of studies (see, e.g., Barker & Prince 1990; Gurney & Means 1997; Gitlin 2003; Davey 2007; De Jong et al. 2012). As established by Maisel et al. (2008), independent life stimulates successful aging with improved health and life satisfaction, and increases the self-esteem of the elderly, all of which can postpone their use of institutionalized care. However, it is important that the public space in large housing estates be adapted to the needs of the elderly to ensure everyone a dignified—and, first and foremost, high-quality—life in old age. For these reasons, it is important to explore public space in large housing estates and what the needs of their elderly residents are regarding this space.

Project leader:

 Boštjan Kerbler PhD, Geography 
+386 (0)1 420 13 00 int. 38


Urban Planning institute of the Republic of Slovenia
Trnovski pristan 2
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

  + 386 (0)1 420 13 00
  + 386 (0)1 420 13 10


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Summer, July–August:
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