Green and Grey in Brussels

Did you know that the percentage of the global elderly population is expected to double by 2050?

With a prediction of 80 million citizens aged above 85, Europe and North America are clearly the leaders in this trend. How can we age healthily and happily? Or, perhaps more importantly, how do we want to age healthy and happily? Over the next four years, Waag will dive into these questions in the European GRAGE project (short for “Green and Grey in Europe”).

A mix of knowledge, expertise and ideas

On the 25th and 26th of February, Paulien and I went to Brussels for the kick-off of the GRAGE project. It was my first EU consortium meeting, so I looked forward traveling to Brussels and meeting the project partners. The project involves people with a lot of different skill sets (e.g. linguistics, law, computer science, sustainability, urban agriculture, and home electronics). Together, we have the opportunity to dream, develop, and reflect upon the future of elderly citizens in urban areas. 

Meaningful purposes

What’s in the project for Waag specifically? As an expert in creative research, we will use (and disseminate) our Users as Designers method. This means that we will use co-creation tools to investigate the needs and desires of elderly citizens in the context of “healthy living". Along with end-users, we will explore the role of wearables and/or robotics, and create meaningful purposes for these new technologies in a home environment.

Furthermore, we will explore the role of virtual and physical communities in stimulating social inclusion. The Fablab at Waag could serve as a playground where ideas are brought to life through hands-on prototyping.

One of the projects goals is stimulating knowledge exchange (specifically face-to-face) between academic and non-academic partners. Because our project partners are based in seven different European countries, the GRAGE project will involve a lot of traveling. My next blog post will likely be written from one of our project partner’s locations!

Want to know more about the GRAGE project? Visit the offcial project website here.

This project is founded by the European Commission, H2020-MSCA-RISE-2014.




Hester van Zuthem