FutureAging Lab

The FutureAging Lab is an interdisciplinary design program, which utilises empathy-based research, human-centred design and visual mapping methods and processes, to design solutions for complex problems in the area of health and ageing. The co-creation lab seeks to engage students and community, inherited problem owners of growing ageing population, in exploring solutions and scenarios while concurrently developing the capacity to solve complex problems in global contexts.

The lab began as a collaboration between the University of Technology (Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, School of Design, Sydney) and Tsinghua University (Industrial Design Department and Healthcare Design Innovation Lab in the Academy of Art and Design, Beijing). The lab aims to create connections between students, academics, government and industry between Australia and China.

Both China and Australia face demographic changes in the coming years where the proportion of elderly will rapidly grow, however, both will face different cultural, social, economic and political conditions. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to more than quadruple to over 2.45 billion by 2050 with almost two-thirds of the world's older population living in the Asia-Pacific (United Nations ESCAP 2017).

In China, the growing ageing population over 65 will make up one-quarter of China's entire population by 2050 with the number of working-age adults per person over 65 falling from 10 to 2.5. In Australia by 2053, it is estimated that 21% of the population will be over 65 by medium-level growth assumptions by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and there will be 2.5 working age people to support every person over 65 as early as 2042 (Australian Government 2017). With global economies closely linked, the impacts of ageing in the Asia-Pacific region are likely to have widespread effects from healthcare, retirement, housing, transportation and employment for both and old and young. Complex problems benefit from a collaborative and networked approach across multiple domains, stakeholders and across cultures.

United Nations ESCAP 2017, ‘ Social Development in Asia and the Pacific, Ageing’, viewed 12 December 2017, <http://www.unescapsdd.org/ageing/overview>

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014, ‘Ageing and the health system: challenges, opportunities and adaptations’, Australia’s health 2014, Australia’s health series, no. 14 cat. no. AUS 178, Canberra, pp.256–258.

Australian Government 2017, Australia’s demographic challenges, Australian Government, The Treasury, viewed 30 June 2017 <https://demographics.treasury.gov.au/content/_download/australias_demographic_challenges/html/adc-04.asp>