With the growing number of older people, architects face the challenge of designing appropriate residential environments for current and future generations of older people. Too often they live in houses that are not adjusted to their needs and desires, with few spatial and social qualities of a real home. Amongst architects and professional care givers awareness grows of the importance of 'feeling at home' in residential and care environments, rather than just meeting basic needs like food, shelter and medical care. This paper builds on this tendency. Based on literature from different disciplines, we identify a set of concepts, which together form a framework to understand (1) what is important in order to create a feeling of homeliness, particularly for older people and (2) how the physical house and its environment can contribute to that. Subsequently, we articulate how these concepts can be reflected in the architecture of the home by drawing on material from empirical research in the homes of older people living in very different contexts.
The feeling of homeliness is based on a dynamic balance between autonomy and security. Trying to balance autonomy and security is an ever ongoing process, called appropriation. This is the process by which a person makes a house into a home. For five spatial aspects we describe and document how they may contribute to enhancing the autonomy-security balance.