Residential complexes in Queensland, Australia: a space of segregation and ageism? Academic Article uri icon


  • ABSTRACTIn western countries, large residential complexes comprising retirement villages and care facilities have become synonymous with specialised housing for older people, but gerontology has tended to view retirement villages and care facilities as separate and different spaces. By researching these spaces separately, gerontology's examination of the development of residential complexes and older people's housing has been hindered. This paper explores the geographies of residential complexes in south-east Queensland, Australia, by employing data from a larger study that utilised Lefebvre's spatial framework, social space. Its specific focus is Lefebvre's concept of representations of space, part of the triad of social space. The paper outlines how the professional knowledge of designers, planners and policy makers shape and frame the place of older people in contemporary society. The findings indicate that professional knowledge is characterised by contradictions, and that business interests sustain stereotypes of older people as either ageless or dependent. Furthermore, spaces designed for older people reinforce historical legacies of separation from the community. This form of built environment can thus be seen as both a cause and effect of ageism. Generally, the lack of attention by gerontology to these spaces has hampered discussion of alternatives for older people's housing in Australia and, importantly, the development of responsive urban and social planning.

publication date

  • January 2012