In approaching the turn of the century, there is a growing concern for the housing needs of elderly people in Hong Kong, both from the public and private sectors. The Hong Kong Housing Authority has recognized the pressing demands of public housing for the elderly, and has revised the housing policy accordingly in recent years. In the private sector, there has been a rapid increase in private homes (Cheng, 1993; Bartlett and Phillips, 1995). In addition to quantitative increase, there is also much concern for the well-being of elderly in their local and wider living environments. Professionals and scholars have highlighted the concern for the environmental needs of elderly people. resulting in initiatives such as the special design and facilities of elderly housing. Environmental psychology is an established area of research within the discipline of psychology. It is the discipline that is concerned with the interactions and relationships between people and their environments (Proshansky, 1990; Veitch and Arkkelin, 1995). This paper provides an overview of some of the classic concerns of environmental psychology and suggests ways in which they might contribute to an understanding of elderly people's environmental needs.
Many environmental psychologists in Western countries have since the 1950s applied person-environmental knowledge to study environments planned and designed for elderly people. To date, however, there have not been many similar studies conducted in the local context of Hong Kong The purpose of the paper is to discuss some of the theories of environmental psychology and to suggest their potential application in the design of special environments for the elderly people in Hong Kong. A brief report of six case studies of elderly people living in different types of housing in Hong Kong in Appendix 5.1 illustrates the range of levels of satisfaction that can be engendered by the environment in which people live.