AgeingHood

AgeingHood explores the intersection between three key domains of human life: ageing, housing and livelihood. The project will propose solutions to address unintended consequences of urban resettlement of low-income older residents of Klong Toey (KT), Bangkok, Thailand. 

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AgeingHood: Protecting the livelihood of vulnerable residents in Klong Toey, Bangkok, Thailand. 

AgeingHood is a 12-month research project between The University of Sheffield and Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand, funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRC, under the GCRF Urgency Grants pilot. Funding amount is approximately £100,000. 

AgeingHood explores the intersection between three key domains of human life: ageing, housing and livelihood. The project will propose solutions to address unintended consequences of urban resettlement of low-income older residents of Klong Toey (KT), Bangkok, Thailand. 

Background

Housing is central to the relationship between people and their physical and psychosocial environments. It is a key determinant of healthy living, especially for older people, and crucial to sustainable urbanisation. Housing means much more than a physical dwelling space. Housing becomes a lifetime home when it supports older people’s physical, cognitive and emotional health, which are strongly linked to independence, self-identity, a sense of place and belonging in old age. 

Livelihood is how people maintain economic activities, be it formal or informal, including the role of the physical environment (i.e. housing) and non-physical systems (social networks, familial relationships, and community support). Attempts to improve low-income people’s housing situations are challenging, largely because newly proposed solutions may neglect the complexity of everyday life in favour of more simplistic solutions. Additionally, modern approaches to housing markets, combined with urban clearance and urban renewal programmes have led to spatial inequalities through the dismantling of low-income neighbourhoods leading to large- scale displacement. This is precisely the scenario that is about to unfold in KT. 

Our research

The aim of this project is to support a low-income people-led initiative as a result of a precarious housing situation they are facing, which is also threatening their welfare given that most residents, and particularly older people, depend on their housing for their livelihood. The urgent goal is to address the threat of eviction of low-income residents in KT, which is one of the largest low-income settlements in Bangkok; and to create a positive collaborative strength between low-income stakeholders, community organisations, policy-makers, and housing developers. AgeingHood aims to contribute to improving governance structures in Bangkok that influence housing provision and redevelopment and resettlement solutions for low-income groups. This will be done by promoting and implementing bottom-up advocacy through architectural design research to develop a housing and livelihood toolkit, which provides a humane approach to managing unintended consequences of rehousing and resettlement policies in the Global South. The project will engage with all parties to co-produce housing and livelihood solutions including resettlement scenarios that guarantee community cohesion and fabric, adequate housing forms, and livelihood security. 

Objectives

  1. Examine current challenges facing the provision of adequate alternative housing to low-income residents in Klong Toey, Bangkok. 
  2. Study current obstacles to maintaining livelihood and protecting the welfare of low- income residents in Klong Toey, Bangkok. 
  3. Co-produce a housing and livelihood toolkit for local housing actors and communities to support the provision of affordable and adequate live-work housing options and redevelopment and resettlement solutions. 
  4. Build capacity of early career researchers and advocacy groups through research training, co-design workshops, implementation of the research programme, and dissemination and impact creation. 

Work Packages 

Work package 1: Challenges facing the provision of adequate alternative housing. 

Aim: In WP1, researchers will review existing Thai housing design standards and regulations and case studies of low-income housing projects in Bangkok to identify the key hurdles preventing low-income housing to be accessible and adaptable, and identify design principles to inform live-work proposals. 

Research Question 1: How can live-work housing options for low-income groups in KT be designed and implemented? 

Methods: A review of the grey literature and design guidelines and standards, and interviews with built environment professionals, older residents, policy-makers and non- governmental organisations (NGOs). 

Work package 2: Obstacles to sustained livelihood and health and well-being. 

Aim: In WP2, researchers will examine the factors preventing low-income groups, in particular older people, from maintaining their livelihood within a sustainable and healthy live-work environment. 

Research Question 2: How can live-work ideas and approaches (a) create livelihood spaces, (b) sustain livelihood, and (c) promote health and well-being for older people in KT? 

Methods: Post-occupancy evaluation and observation of space use (for home and livelihood purposes) and accompanying older people during their livelihood activities to elicit narratives and further understand participants’ real-life experiences. 

Work package 3: Co-design of the pilot policy and practice toolkit. 

Aim: In WP3, researchers will work with stakeholders to co-produce an integrated design toolkit for accessible and sustainable low-income live-work housing, and provide recommendations to support negotiating rehousing and resettlement policies. 

Research Question 3: What alternatives to eviction, rehousing and resettlement can be considered to protect housing and livelihood through bottom-up advocacy? 

Methods: (i) Triangulation of results from WP1 & 2 to compare and cross-check findings, explore empirical observation and inform and structure co-design activities. (ii) Development of (a) live-work design options for KT community, and (b) alternative approaches to eviction, i.e. rehousing and resettlement solutions through architectural design for redevelopment and relocation; both outputs will form the housing and livelihood toolkit. 

Work package 4: Capacity building, dissemination and impact creation. 

Aim: Build research capacity between Thailand and UK researchers and other stakeholders for research, knowledge exchange and co-production of live-work housing design typologies that meet the needs and ambitions of low-income older people and their families in Thailand. 

Methods: Workshops and seminars on research methodology, problem-solving strategies, design strategies, dissemination and impact creation. 

Impact This project will lead to a step change in addressing the complex relationship between housing and livelihood for older urban residents in a challenging environment. 

The primary output of this study is a housing and livelihood toolkit for low-income housing that sustains livelihood, and provides redevelopment and relocation solutions through bottom-up advocacy. This toolkit will be produced in lay language for general public accessibility. 

The toolkit will benefit local stakeholders in Bangkok, including low-income groups, policy-makers and NGOs. 

Low-income older people will be introduced to the concept and process of co-design, live-work housing, and community participation and engagement. 

Policy-makers, such as the National Housing Authority of Thailand, will use our proposed tools and mechanism to engage with low-income older people to design housing that supports the livelihood and contributes to the welfare of low-income older people in KT and other cities in Thailand. 

NGOs whose activities include improving the housing and quality of life of vulnerable people in low-income countries will be able to use the outcome of this project to increase public awareness. 

Longer term benefits from the project include stronger research-informed voices from within the low-income communities to improve governance structures and influence redevelopment plans that may affect their livelihood and welfare. 

Research teams 

UK Team: Principal Investigator: Professor Karim Hadjri Co-Investigator: Dr. Isaiah Durosaiye (UK Project Coordinator) Co-Investigator: Mr. Satwinder Samra Research Assistant: Yanisa Niennattrakul 

Thailand Team: Co-Investigator: Dr. Soranart Sinuraibhan (Thailand Project Coordinator) Co-Investigator: Dr. Sutida Sattayakorn Co-Investigator: Dr. Supreeya Wungpatcharapon Co-Investigator: Dr. Saithiwa Ramasoot 

For further information, contact: Dr. Isaiah Durosaiye (email: i.durosaiye@sheffield.ac.uk) 

Updates

New activities about the project will be uploaded here regularly. 

First Steering Committee meeting

On 1 October 2020, the Steering Committee of AgeingHood Project held its first meeting, which was attended by Professor Dorothea Kleine, University of Sheffield; Dr Yael Padan, University College London; Dr Bart Lambregts and Dr Soranart Sinuraibhan, both from Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand; Professor Karim Hadjri, Principal Investigator; and Dr Isaiah Durosaiye, Project Coordinator. 

Professor Karim Hadjri presented the evolution of the collaboration between Sheffield School of Architecture and Faculty of Architecture, Kasetsart University, noting that this AHRC-funded project is the culmination of a number of previous attempts between the two partners dating back to 2017. He then outlined the project objectives and how work in the project will contribute to resolving conflicts between housing and livelihood, especially for low-income older people, who are also having to grapple with the challenges of growing old in an urban informal settlement. 

Dr Isaiah Durosaiye presented the work packages and the activities that have been completed in the first three months of the project. He highlighted the strategic significance of the partnership between Kasetsart University and University of Sheffield, noting that, as a project funded under the Global Challenges Research Fund, it was important that researchers at Kasetsart University assumed leading roles in most of the work packages.

Dr Soranart Sinuraibhan presented the structure of the partnership, highlighting the key roles of our non-academic partners in the project, including National Housing Authority (NHA), Community Organisations Development Institute (CODI) and Promjai Development Foundation (PDF).

Professor Dorothea Kleine drew researchers’ attention to the significance of intersectionality across ageing, poverty and gender, noting that reference to gender should include care responsibilities, which is often heavily gendered. Professor Dorothea Kleine also pointed out that livelihood activities are often a means of maintaining social interaction for older people, the lack of which can lead to loneliness, especially during the pandemic period. 

Dr Bart Lambregts urged AgeingHood researchers to note that livelihood activities are a dynamic phenomenon and the way older people experienced livelihood 20 years ago was different compared to nowadays, with technology and the COVID-19 pandemic fuelling a shift to online trading.

Dr Yael Padan observed that undertaking this kind of research between Global North and Global South researchers requires great attention to ethical sensitivity. She commended the novelty of the project and its recognition of the unintended consequences resettlement plans have on older people when left to their own devices.

Initial Site Survey at Khlong Toey Community, Bangkok, Thailand

On 11th September 2020, the research team from Kasetsart University (KU), Thailand, visited three selected study sites at Khlong Toey community in Bangkok, which included Ban Mankong blocks (No. 7-15), flats (No. 23-24), and Ban Kluay Community (a scattered community). During the visit, the researchers introduced themselves and explained the research project to residents and community gatekeepers. The initial site survey was an opportunity for the researchers to gain more information about the residents’ backgrounds, to examine research participants’ design needs and expectations, and to talk about current design issues.

Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Documenting Live-Work Spaces

The initial survey of how the residents use their houses as ‘live-work’ spaces in different housing types (including blocks, flats, and a scattered community) was recorded. The research team documented the existing architectural spaces by using quick plan sketches, photographs, and videos. In addition, on-site discussions with the residents were recorded in fieldnotes.

Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project

The ‘Ad-hoc’ Livelihood

The initial site survey revealed various live-work typologies in Khlong Toey Community such as shops, salons, crafting spaces (e.g. tailoring and making flower garlands), or a garbage collection storage. These images depict ad-hoc strategies of space maximisation, such as hanging everyday objects on walls, utilising corridor spaces, or self-built mezzanines. There is an example of multi-generational living in one household, which has been creatively organised to share these spaces between family members.

Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Low-cost Micro Dwelling for Khlong Toey Community

The KU research team visited a case study housing scheme, ‘Low-cost Micro Dwelling for Khlong Toey Community’, which is a Corporate Social Responsibility project by Charoen Pokphand (CP) and First Army Area. The housing project was designed by Vin Varavarn Architects, a Bangkok-based architectural firm, that focuses on designing clean and appropriate housing for local residents. It is notable that most of the houses were adapted by the residents after occupation.

Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project
Ageinghood project

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