Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Katz


In today’s swiftly aging society, China grapples with the challenge of elderly individuals gradually becoming disconnected from the social fabric, often leading to the phenomenon of empty-nesting, especially in China’s eastern urban areas. Understanding and addressing the needs of the elderly is crucial for designing environments, that give continued meaning to the lives of the elderly, and create connections with the rest of society. Further, the elderly are a resource for families, capable of providing childcare and even housing to younger generations, whether the younger generations want this help or not. In response to the challenge of keeping the elderly in contact with the rest of society, this thesis focuses on designing a daycare center operated by local elderly individuals, in a prototypical scheme that could be applied in countless Chinese cities. These ideas will be tested within the heart of Kunming’s old city center, housed in a 70-year-old historic building. The daycare center is open to children under the age of 4, offering them a safe and supportive space before they enter kindergarten. Additionally, the center welcomes school-age children after school hours, providing various enriching activities and programs that appeal to both the young and old, keeping these groups in contact and active, stimulating new thoughts, and forging connections. This thesis revitalizes the historic building by incorporating modern architectural design elements to attract the attention of younger demographics to this part of downtown Kunming. By learning the architectural language of the existing building while incorporating modern materials, the project divides the building’s functions into a teahouse and a daycare center. This allows local elderly people to have more opportunities to interact with children, alongside the younger adult population. Through this innovative programmatic model, the daycare center not only meets the needs of working parents but also fosters intergenerational connections and community cohesion. By bringing together young children and elderly residents in a shared space, the center promotes empathy, understanding, and mutual support across generations, thereby enriching the lives of all participants.



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