China’s Aging Population

As aging communities increase in China, there is a high need for services and infrastructure that are suited to their needs. Within China there are three key issues which need addressing including tradition, social inequalities and lack of resources.


The traditional way of caring for elders, based on filial piety wherein the younger generations live with and care for the older generations is becoming disrupted (Walker & Zhou 2015). With the introduction of the one child campaign this way of life is becoming increasingly difficult as one person must look after two parents and four grandparents, also known as the 1:2:4 ratio (Xu 2016). In addition to this many young people seek modern living arrangements in the city away from their parents and grandparents.


Image 1: The 1:2:4 Ratio (BBC 2012)

Currently in Australia most people aged eighty-five years and over live in aged-care facilities (ABS 2013). An opportunity for China could be to create living arrangements that allow young people to live independently while still having access to their relatives.

Social inequalities

Within China there exists a large gap in economic status between those in the city and those in rural areas (Dong 2010). In addition to this younger people are heading into the city causing the rural environments to have a larger percentage of the elderly, This, paired with the privatisation of medical services means that it can be a struggle for the elderly to cure even a common cold due to the high rate of expense (Dong, X. 2010).

Image 2: Rural China (Forsyth 2015)

An opportunity that could arise from this is creating inexpensive medical services which can be implemented in rural areas. Another area could be to innovate cities to cater for the elderly so that they are accommodating places to live in.

Lack of Resources

With a growing number of elderly living alone comes a greater demand for community and at home care. Currently the system of community care in China is basic and generalised and there are still many communities without care causing them to suffer in both physical and mental health (Xu, B.).

Could China implement a digital care service that allows Elders to talk to their doctors as well as family and friends who live far away via a video chat? This would be similar to what is currently being implemented in Rural Australia wherein individuals contact health professionals, including psychiatrists via a video conference. In this way, the service could adapt to individual needs and ensure they get the right level of care.



Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 2071.0- Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-2013, Canberra, viewed 1 November 2016, <;

BBC 2012, The 4-2-1 family, viewed 1 November 2016, <;

Dong, X. 2010, ‘Health and aging in a Chinese population: urban and rural disparities’, Geriatrics & Gerontology International, vol. 10, no. 1, viewed 1 November 2016, <;jsessionid=06BDCE566036AD02CAAE1462A3197C3E.f02t04&gt;

Forsyth, A. 2015, Rural areas in China face a growing inequality and discrepancies in wealth and healthcare access, Health And Places Initiative, viewed 1 November 2016, <;

Pert, A. 2015, ‘Design for an Ageing Population’, National Seniors Australia, viewed 1 November 2016, <;

Xu, B. 2016, ‘A silver lining to China’s ageing population’, The Australian, 27 January, viewed 1 November 2016, <;

Walker, A & Zhou, J. 2015, ‘The Need for Community Care Among Older People in China’, Ageing and Society, vol. 36, no. 6, viewed 1 November 2016 <;


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Posted in A: Secondary Research, Uncategorized

Xu Zhen. Artist, Socialist.

Kai Faulkner – 11988021


Xu Zhen

Xu Zhen is a Chinese born artist who specialises across multiple fields from curation to performance to photography to spatial art. Many of his works are very thought provoking and confront socio-political issues raised in contemporary China.

Zhen operates out of a 4 storey studio is south-western Shanghai after recently relocating the expanding practice from a factory space on the opposite side of the city.

Zhen takes on a somewhat mischievous approach when it comes to making art. Suggested is the ideology of a collective process, but this is all a facade. “I am both CEO and boss” he has said humorously. Creative decisions are always his, and the artist believes that there are “no equal partnerships” and that “in art, some people get hurt. Art at times has to be hurtful”. I find this really hard to come to grips with as I am a strong believer in art being a highly collaborative and all-inclusive process. This could come down to a cultural difference possibly or else it is just an innovative approach on art by a creative ‘savant’.


Original piece by Xu Zhen, ‘In the blink of an eye’ 2005-2015. This illusion depicts a person suspended in mid-fall, suggesting everyday vanities and failings.

One thing that is immediately noticeable with Zhen’s creative works is the freedom that he is expressing. Nothing is normal or regular, whether this be expressed through unconventional forms or materials, it plays with your perceptions and allows the user to interpret it how they see it. Could this kind of approach be similar to that being taken by many youth’s in China that is only going to grow as they break through the middle class’ and into that higher echelon of creative work.

Overall, Zhen is highly determined and committed to continuing his challenge on the art market. “We like to change, and this makes it very difficult for galleries who work with us”, “People don’t really know what they want. Artists have to create the market… and then supply it.” Zhen is incredibly difficult to categorize in the art sphere as he has an innate ability to reinvent himself. This has proven to be quite a virtue in this market where novelty, frivolity and change are relished. “There will always be a market. But you must avoid the cycle where people who like your work are poor and people who have money don’t understand your work”. A narcissistic approach to art creation, sure, but if we think about design with this mindset and then have the ability to scale outwards then we may truly be able to create the change that this world needs.



Art Asia Pacific, 2016, Xu Zhen, Shanghai China, Viewed 10 November 2016, <>.

Posted in Uncategorized

Post B – the grey army

It is commonly assumed that retirement translates to having a well-deserved rest. Yet it is well researched that a stagnant retirement can lead to cognitive, emotional and physical deterioration for aged citizens. Dr Patricia Edgar believes that “people in a late-stage career or living an active life after 55 still have much to give”. She sees retirement as “Life Part Two”, an opportunity to redesign and reinvent “our long life journey” (Edgar, 2014).

Screen Shot 2016-11-11 at 4.40.06 pm.png

Grey Army’ is a database in place within Australia, consisting of a pool of older workers as potential employees. The grey army offers skilled, reliable, mature workers with “good old fashioned values” and reasonable prices. Tasks range from handyman jobs, caring roles, plumbing, and odd jobs.

Grey army is relatively small/local service, so I have also explored ‘Airtasker’, a very similar platform not specific to elderly but utilised by all ages, including over 65. The domain allows users to post ‘tasks’ and other users can accept and fulfil the task’s requirements, with the website taking a small cut of the earnings. Participant Rod Armstrong had grown bored in retirement and sought to earn some cash, have new social interactions, and feel he had worth within the community. Rod has since followed his strong passion for fixing things, by completing various odd jobs in his local area. He says the system is “good for people looking for supplementary income, especially those who have retired and have time on their hands”.


The success of this concept is complemented with research undertaken by Griffith university. Individuals over the age of 45, with a mix of employment industries and histories were surveyed. Results showed that flexible employment options are needed to attract older people to possibly return to, or remain in the workforce. Notably, the participants commented that they were “willing to learn new things, and challenge employer’s views about older people not being as able” (Hort, 2015). Patricia Moore backs this common idea of exclusion, stating that “at present, perhaps the greatest cause of misunderstanding older people… is a failure to view them as members of a community” (Moore, 2015, pp 33).

Thus, we can see here that Grey Army and Airtasker are successful platforms in place that enable older people to enjoy flexible work hours and to follow their passions whilst tackling personal and societal economic issues.


Edgar, P. 2016, Grey army must fight to be treated with dignity and respect, The Sydney Morning Herald. viewed 10 November 2016, <;.

Foo, F. 2016, Grey army answers call from odd jobs website, TheAustralian. viewed 10 November 2016, <;.

Home – Grey Army 2016, Grey Army. viewed 10 November 2016, <;.

Hort, L. 2016, The Age 404 Page, The Age. viewed 10 November 2016, <;.

Moore, P. 2015, ‘Disguised: the true story of a designer’s quest to embrace and elevate elders with equity’, in Y. Lee & P. Moore, Ageing, ingenuity, and design, DESIS Network, Hong Kong, pp. 26–35.

Posted in B: Aging Best Practices

Ageing? Where are you going to be?

Kai Faulkner – 11988021

Over the past weeks I spent a lot of time talking to my grandmother. She is an intelligent woman who during her eventful life has had a range of professions including being a scientist, and she has been fortunate enough to live overseas in many different countries including Canada, England and parts of Europe. She is also a very deep thinker and has a thirst of knowledge for how the future might end up resolving itself and also of her role in the development of past events. In the interview I conducted with her we talked about her current lifestyle, where she sees herself living over the next 15-20 years and about her engagement within the community.

She thinks that by the year 2030, where she will be aged 86, she will still be alive judging by current statistics and the fact that she has no medical conditions. “With modern technology, the chances are I will still be driving. These self driving cars are pretty much a turning point.” It is good here to see that there are members of the aging population that are optimistic about the rise of technology rather than being scared of it. “It’s really hard to know though, there are so many variables (regarding mental and physical health). I’d like to be attending exercise classes of some kind, reading, travelling and keeping in touch with current affairs and politics”


Photo 1: The central concourse at Chatswood is a location for shopping and general assembly of people. Shown here is a circular, semi-sculptural, seating location. As can be seen, it does get used by people, but perhaps it is not the best use of space and also not so good for the ageing generation.


Photo 2: A broader view down Chatswood concourse shows some seating, however it is clear to see that it is a boring space. Why would anyone really want to spend a prolonged period of time here.


Photo 3: When I arrived in Hong Kong en-route to Beijing, I went exploring and found Victoria park. This was an amazing space I found and all throughout it you could find people partaking in ‘tai che’ and other activities. Having such an open outdoor space in a busy city like Hong Kong is refreshing.


Photo 4: As can be seen in this photo, there are many shaded seats and also a dedicated loop jogging track for exercise. This was very heavily used by all ages ranging from young adult through the elderly. Also around the park were exercise stations where many people including the elderly were able to get a free workout.

We talked a bit about engagement within the community and Marilyn brought up that she is not currently doing any voluntary work, but being in her 70’s and still physically able, she would really like to, and she plans to do so. “I have a lot of friends through aerobic dancing, Probus club and family connections.” “Voluntary work in the area of people with disabilities would be amazing. I’m not so keen on aged care.” I found it interesting that she explicitly expressed not wanting to work in aged care. But possibly working with refugees, or meals on wheels. There are really many options when it comes to voluntary work in Australia and I think that could be an interesting area particularly when it comes to engaging the elderly generation.

Marilyn had an interesting theory about why many people particularly from the younger generation find it difficult to empathise with and design effectively for aging people. The problem is people don’t generally find the elderly attractive. ‘Maybe they shouldn’t be out here? Why are they here?” She went on to talk about how you can feel a bit annoyed by them being in the way. Elderly people shouldn’t be slowing people down, looking pathetic. They should stay shut up at home. But then she made the observation that the Asian population seem to really respect elderly people. When she was working, she had this young Korean lady working for her and she was always just so respectful and kind.

Overall, some very interesting insight was gained through these observations and interview process. This is just a first attempt at an empathy task and hopefully over the coming experience in Beijing I can broaden my learning’s to a much greater extent.

Posted in Uncategorized

Animal Regulations by Liu Di

In order to investigate “the friction between then natural world and urban residents in China” (Widewalls, n.d.), Liu Di uses digital photography and manipulation to portray his series, ‘Animal Regulations.’


Animal Regulation No.6 by Liu Di (Pekin Fine Arts, n.d.)

By exhibiting caricature-like wild animals on an urban landscape we are brought to think about our environment and surroundings and how they are affecting every other living thing around us. Liu Di embeds these enlarged animals situated amongst the urban ruins of the city of Beijing, highlighting them into an environment that has been forgotten, run down or under construction. By filling the emptiness of these images with wild animals, we cannot help but notice ‘the big rhinoceros in the room’, alluding to the “deeper issues here-the void is filled with an unwanted visitor and in order for it to go away something must change.” (Casal-Data, 2014) The images have political undertones where,

“Between the nature and human society, between the material world and the intellect, between the obedience to and violation of the laws of nature It is only when our preconceptions are jolted that we wake up and truly see”

– Liu Di, (Casal-Data, 2014)


Animal Regulation No.4 by Liu Di (Inspiration Grid, 2014)

His artworks are truly a reflection on not only China but the world’s obsession with urbanisation and with this we risk destroying the environment we’re building on. Liu came up with this concept whilst on a bus in Beijing and having a “strong feeling that there was something missing between the ground and the sky” (White Rabbit, n.d.) Adding a large animal confined in the centre of the cityscape evokes a message that would be “powerful and impossible to ignore, but not something that would make people panic.” (White Rabbit, n.d.) Having the animal so large it’s confined within the environment makes the art quite uncomfortable and jarring for viewers, perhaps a wake up call to the deterioration of our world.



Animal Regulation II No.10 (Artsy, n.d.)

Di builds on his concept, producing ‘Animal Regulation II’, superimposing naked, disproportionate humans onto more urban landscapes. With this series he provokes us to look around and reconsider our surroundings by juxtaposing caricature-like humans onto urban landscapes. As these caricatures dehumanises the viewer, we can understand in more of a rational thinking that humanity exploits the elements of nature to solely benefit ourselves. The solemn face we see in the image above reveals our self realisation and awareness of this issue and that it’s almost too late to resolve this problem.

Through these images you can see his social commentary and how the explosion of urbanisation in China has caused a conflicting relationship between nature and humanity.



Animal Regulations: Photo Manipulations by Di Liu 2014, viewed 11 November 2016, <;.

Casal-Data, V. 2014, Liu Di’s Massive Photoshopped Animals Bring Attention To Beijing’s Urban Ruins, Beautiful/Decay. viewed 8 November 2016, <;.

Chin, A. 2010, di liu: animal regulation series, designboom | architecture & design magazine. viewed 10 November 2016, <;.

Lark, J. n.d., Liu Di, WideWalls. viewed 8 November 2016, <;.

Liu Di – 3 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy 2016, viewed 7 November 2016, <;.

Liu Di 柳迪 | White Rabbit Gallery n.d., viewed 10 November 2016, <;.

Liu Di n.d., Pekin Fine Arts. viewed 11 November 2016, <;.


Posted in D: Chinese Contemporary Culture

POST A: Health and wellbeing for an imbalanced population

The consequences of China’s 36-year one-child policy, combined with an improving health care system have contributed to an increasingly ageing population. Increased life expectancy and decreased birth-rate has put the wellbeing of individuals and communities at risk, generating a need for innovative design. My research has led me to consider issues surrounding economics, healthcare and resources, and the growing social divide.

China’s economy is largely driven by the manufacturing industry, and therefore is dependant on affordable labour sources. China’s ageing working class has witnessed a gradual decline of young, physically-able employees. Consequently, manufacturing wages will increase, thus reducing the revenue of companies within the industry. It has already been predicted that by 2030, China will be forced to outsource workers from abroad. (CSIS, 2016). Furthermore, the Chinese government will face financial problems due to the growing number of retirees and decrease of taxpayers. Thus, it is clear the there is an imbalance in in Chinese industries, resulting in a exclusion of the elderly which consequently impacts the entire population. Is there an opportunity to create labour aimed directly at the elderly?

Major changes are underway regarding Health services and resources. The changing economy has stimulated a change from a solely government supported health system to a subsidized system. This, paired with the occurrence of many diseases due to ageing and low health literacy has created a higher demand for funds and services. Basic knowledge of health is alarmingly low among elderly Chinese people. The Chinese Ministry of Public health evaluates people aged 65-69 has the lowest health literacy (3.81%), due to a lack of education and promotion of healthy behaviours in both rural and urban areas (Woo, 2016). Therefore, it is clear that with the rise of uneducated elderly, there is a need for a strengthened health care system that particularly focuses on prevention and healthy lifestyle choices.

Socially, issues are arising due to an imbalance in age and demographic. As expert Huang Yanzhong posits, “ageing will change the societal intergenerational relationships”, generating a rift between the economically productive youth and the elderly who are benefitting from pensions and Medicare payouts. “A confrontation between workers and retirees will likely arise” (Huang Yanzhong, 2016). Full video:

Therefore, it is clear that the current norms of filial piety (the youth caring for the aged) will not meet the needs of the aged, creating resentment and pressure for the younger generations.


This diagram presents the ‘4-2-1 phenomenon’, whereby only children are expected to care for two parents and four grandparents in retirement. It can be predicted that this value will not be effective or long-lasting with the increase of aged families and decrease of able workers. Rather, private funding and redesigned systems and facilities are necessary to reinstate social balance in China.



Aging in China: The Implications for Healthcare | Thought leadership and innovation for the Pharmaceutical Industry – EyeforPharma 2016, viewed 7 November 2016, <;.

Does China have an ageing problem? | China Power Project 2016, viewed 7 November 2016, <;.

Woo, J. 2016, Ageing in China: health and social consequences and responses,.

Yanzhong Huang: Does China have an aging problem? 2016, YouTube. viewed 7 November 2016, <;.

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Posted in A: Secondary Research, Uncategorized

“A population with far fewer people in their productive prime”


China’s growing population at a current count of 1.371 billion people (The World Bank, 2016)

In order to reduce China’s growing population of 1.3 billion citizens (The World Bank, 2016), the government implemented a one-child policy that lasted for four decades (Juan, 2016). As a result of this, China’s population is now 400 million people smaller (Hodin, 2015). However several long term effects have risen where due to a lack of new borns, the Chinese population is ageing rapidly, causing mass economic and social effects. With a the younger generation a smaller size than its elders the country is now in a place where its workforce is becoming quite limiting for all. The older generation seeks to postpone their retirement for their family whilst the youth are becoming more and more weary of the responsibilities they must take once they become the sole source of income for their family.


As a way to fix this ageing problem, the Chinese government passed a now two-child policy earlier this year to reduce the responsibilities of the upcoming generation. Allowing their citizens to have a second child or the opportunity to have two children has caused a baby boom, sparking a long term effort in reducing China’s ageing population.

However, while this new generation is growing, the current baby boomers of China will ultimately reach retirement age where “the country will transition from having a… youthful population, and an abundant workforce, to a population with far fewer people in their productive prime.” (French, 2016) This would hinder the country’s economic growth as the workforce will begin to shrink due to their reliance on the older workers.

This socio-economic issue is quite unique to China and can be seen as an opportunity for the design community. We have the ability to find a solution that would need to help the elderly and yet benefit the generations after them. By posing questions such as , ‘how might we ease the baby boomers into retirement whilst keeping the size of the Chinese workforce?’ we can begin to design smart solutions that would benefit the Chinese society.

One policy China could implement is a way to slow down the retirement age by allowing those almost reaching this stage to reduce their weekly working hours for a slow transition into retirement with a small pension. By doing so, the older generation is able to teach the youth their modes and methods of work. The youth will then be able to gain knowledge passed down from the retirees and the baby boomers can ease into retirement, slowly adopting their new way of life.

Perhaps China needs to provide better services in their age care, while the baby boomers move into retirement the health and wellbeing industry would boom. This could open up a lot of career opportunities for our generation. New jobs in the health industry could slow down the shrinking workforce as well as helping the elderly and those part of the new two-child policy.



French, H. 2016, China’s Twilight Years, The Atlantic. viewed 2 November 2016, <;.

Hodin, M. 2015, How China Can Deal with Its Rapidly Aging Population, The Fiscal Times. viewed 4 November 2016, <;.

Juan, S. 2016, China’s two-child policy beginning to offer hope of addressing aging issue, The Jakarta Post. viewed 4 November 2016, <;.

Nikolova, M. 2016, Two solutions to the challenges of population aging | Brookings Institution, Brookings. viewed 3 November 2016, <;.

Pettinger, T. 2016, The impact of an ageing population on the economy | Economics Help, viewed 3 November 2016, <;.

Population, total | Data 2016, viewed 30 October 2016, <;.

Posted in A: Secondary Research