The PlaceAge Project consists of three projects funded by the UK’s ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), for a total of £ 1,213,116.00, and CNPQ (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) of Brazil, with the support of scholarships for researchers. United Kingdom, Brazil and India participate of the Project. The projects are also supported by Brazilian research agency FAPERGS (Foundation for the Support of Research in the State of Rio Grande do Sul), and by the Federal University of Pelotas with funding research assistants and research associates.

1. The project that gave rise to PlaceAge is called “Place-Making with Older People: Towards Age Friendly Communities” and focuses on exploring how older adults face ageing in different urban, social and cultural contexts in the UK and Brazil. It is funded in the amount of £ 808,289 by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council). The project started in 2016, with data collection and analysis activities completed in 2019. From 2020 to 2023 the project continues with activities of impact and development of public policies with national and international agencies.

2. The second project is called “Ageing Well in Urban Environments: Developing Age Friendly Cities and Communities”. This initiative has a partnership between the United Kingdom, India and Brazil and is funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) of the United Kingdom and by the ICSSR (Indian Council for Research in Social Sciences) of India. Activities started in 2018 and will be completed in 2021. Financing is £ 404,827 in total.

3. The third Project is called “PlaceAge-COVID”, and studies the experiences of older adults to determine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on social wellbeing and the impact of measures such as social distance and ‘stay at home’ on health people’s physical and mental health. It is an international partnership between Brazil (Federal University of Pelotas) and Heriot-Watt University (United Kingdom). The activities started in 2021 and will be completed in 2023. More information about the project can be accessed at: https://wp.ufpel.edu.br/agefriendlycities/

These projects are co-led by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, and Sri Venkateswara University in India.

Ageing populations in the UK, Brazil and India have generated new challenges in how to best design urban environments that support and promote everyday social engagement and healthy urban living for older people. As they age older adults face declining physical and cognitive capacities, changes to their living arrangements and loss of social supports. In response to this, the ageing-in-place agenda has become an important issue in redefining policy for older people. The ageing-in-place agenda posits that the preferred environment for older adults to age is in the community, where they can remain active, engaged, socially connected, and independent. However, contemporary urban cities can be ‘unfriendly’ and ‘hostile’ to older adults, acting as a barrier to accessing social, economic and civic opportunities. These research projects recognize that simply changing the built form is not sufficient to create a more inclusive environment for ageing since places are more than physical spaces. Viable environments are articulated through a strong sense of place, defined as the social, psychological and emotional bonds that people have with their environment. A strong sense of place results from having access to supports for active participation, opportunities to build and sustain social networks, and assuming a meaningful role in the community. In contrast a feeling of displacement or ‘placelessness’ is associated with alienation, isolation and loneliness, often resulting in adverse health and well-being outcomes, particularly amongst vulnerable older adults. Societally, the creation of age friendly urban environments that support sense of place is integral to successful ageing ensuring that older adults can continue to make a positive contribution in old age, delaying the need for institutional care and reducing health and social care costs. Through developing a cross-cultural experiential understandings of ageing-in-the-right-place which take into account transformations in both, person and place, the PlaceAge Project recognises the importance for developing age-friendly urban spaces that respond to different environmental, social and political frameworks.


Project: ‘Place-Making with Older People: Towards Age Friendly Communities’.

Research-Project Fund Awarded: £808,289.

This project is totally funded by ESRC (the Economic & Social Research Council) under its Urban Transformations Research Programme. This was submitted to the ‘Healthy Urban Living and the Social Science of the Food-Water-Energy Nexus: UK-Brazil Calls for Collaborative Research’. 

Project: ‘Ageing Well in Urban Environments: Developing Age Friendly Cities and Communities’.

Research-Project Fund Awarded: £404,827.

The UK-Brazil-India project is funded by ESRC (the Economic & Social Research Council) of the UK and ICSSR (Indian Council for Social Science Research) of India under its Urban Transformations Research Programme. 

Project: ‘PlaceAge-COVID’.

Funding: R $ 60,000 Brazil Reals.

Research in Brazil, in partnership with the United Kingdom, is funded by CNPQ (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) in Brazil. It will initially be developed in Brazil entirely online, due to the pandemic, and in the future it may be extended to residents in India and the United Kingdom. For this Project all information can be found at: https://wp.ufpel.edu.br/agefriendlycities/



The PlaceAge Project seeks to answer three research questions each related to a general objective:

Research Questions:

(i) How is sense of place experienced by older adults from different social classes living in diverse neighbourhoods in the UK, Brazil and India?

(ii) What services, amenities and features are needed to create age friendly communities that promote healthy cities and active ageing in different urban and cultural contexts?

(iii) How can communities be designed to better integrate the sense of place needs of older adults across different urban and cultural contexts?

Research Aims:

(i) to investigate how sense of place is experienced by older people from different social settings living in diverse neighbourhoods in the UK, Brazil and India;

(ii) to translate these experiences into designs for age friendly communities that support sense of place; 

(iii) to better articulate the role of older adults as active placemakers in the design process by involving the community at all stages of the research.


The PlaceAge Project is undertaken a cross-national case study approach. Experiential research involving older adults and place have primarily been conducted as single-nation studies. Whilst these studies have made an important contribution to the research picture, there is a tendency to generalise outcomes and assume tools and resources are applicable across different national contexts. A comparative, multiple, cross-national case study approach is needed to understand the diversity of place-based experiences of older adults, and how this is influenced by neighbourhood, social contexts, welfare regimes and processes of urban governance and planning.

PlaceAge selected three cities as case studies in Brazil (Brasilia, Pelotas, Belo Horizonte), three cities as case studies in the UK (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester) and three cities as case studies in India (Hyderabad, Calcutta and Delhi). The case study cities have been selected to represent a broad spectrum of urban areas, in terms of demography (mixed tenures by age), inequality (health and social disparities between high and low income groups), topography (different types of urban densities and form) and urban development (varying levels of physical transformation and change).


The PlaceAge Project brings together older adults, policy makers and practitioners and academics between UK, Brazil and India to explore how support older adults to age across diverse urban, social and cultural contexts. The investigation comprises three linked Work Packages (WPs), which are focused to produce public policies to support ageing friendly environments for all:

Work Package 1 – Capturing Sense of Place

Work Package 2 – Mapping Sense of Place

Work Package 3 – Designing for Sense of Place

Work Package 4 – Research Impact


Dr. Ryan Woolrych – Principal Investigator in the UK
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, UK
Dr. Adriana Portella – Principal Investigator in Brazil
Federal University of Pelotas
Pelotas, Brazil
Prof. V. Srikanth Reddy – Principal Investigator in India
Sri Venkateswara University
Tirupati, India
Dr. Jamuna Duvvuru – Principal Investigator in India
Sri Venkateswara University
Tirupati, India