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(Archief) Ageing Atlas

What differences does it make to age in different cultures?

Dit project was onderdeel van DDW 2022

Although ageing is a natural process, what it means to be young or old varies in diverse cultures and also in the same society over time. Ageing Atlas is a social design project about getting older. It presents what it means to age in two urban spaces from different cultures: Seoul and Cologne.


Never before have people lived longer than today thanks to improved living conditions, hygiene, and preventive health care. The world's institutions of different levels are adapting to this demographic shift in their policies in terms of infrastructure, the healthcare system as well as community building. However, there is less attention paid to the meaning of old and elderly's daily life. How the media is projecting a person in her mid-sixties, for example, has not changed much from the time when we were expected to live only for a few years further. Now that we expect to live another 20 years after retirement, we have to search for new models by which to grow old, and challenge stereotypes that there is only one way of doing so.

The Project

Ageing Atlas is a research and exhibition project about getting ‘old’ and its meaning. It presents what it means to age in two urban spaces from different cultures: Seoul, South Korea and Cologne, Germany. Both societies are currently undergoing rapid demographic shifts. What do Koreans and Germans associate with the term old and what is it like to age in each culture? The project traces the everyday experience of 4 elderlies from each city. While age is conventionally interpreted in the realm of a timeline, the atlas of older adults expands its scope to space. The project also captures the ideas on aging from 40 individuals from different age groups. These personal narratives are visualized in form of maps, emotion graphs, and self-documented videos and pictures. The exhibition not only shares the findings but also asks the visitors to join the discussion about a topic that we tend to avoid: getting older.