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Landscapes of Longevity

Research

Title

Landscapes of Longevity

This team is developing a short documentary film that integrates a variety of elements of research on the role that cultural landscapes and public space play in fostering healthy aging. Their research investigates:

(a) The physical aspects of landscape that enable healthy communities.

(b) The importance of a “sense of place” in fostering well-being.

The researchers are exploring these elements in several locations around the world known as “blue zones”: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, California. These regions of the world have been identified by demographers as aging anomalies because of the unusually long lifespans enjoyed by residents. These researchers are working with a holistic understanding of health and wellbeing - one that attributes longevity to a combination of physical, mental, social, and psychological factors. Their study of public space and healthy aging in these different settings promises to generate insights and strategies for design schemes in the United States that could serve to nurture a culture of increased vitality. Such an understanding will be critical for designers, planners, policy makers, and health care professionals over the next decade as 70 million Americans - many of them struggling with chronic disease - reach the age of retirement. The project engages with partners in a number of departments and centers at the University of Virginia, including the Planning and Landscape Architecture programs within the Architecture School, the Nursing and Medical Schools, the Music Department, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Moreover, by presenting their work in the documentary film format, this team will be making their research available to a broad audience, conveying ideas of a more inclusive understanding of health and longevity across the UVA community and beyond.

Key People: Asa Eslocker and Harriett Jameson, Master’s students in Landscape Architecture, School of Architecture, University of Virginia.