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Design Leadership Prize:
Focus Ageing Society


Solidarity Network

EPFL + ECAL Lab – Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Nicolas Henchoz, Mathieu Daudelin, Andreas Koller, David Roulin, Olivier Evalet, Andreas Sonderegger, Béatrice Durandard

Pro Senectute

Alain Plattet, Marion Zwygart
Helen Hamlyn Center,

Royal College of Art, London

Emily Groves, Chris McGinley, Rama Gheerawo

Supported by:

Leenaards Foundation


Among the major problems of an increasingly ageing society is the ever more prevalent phenomenon of loneliness in old age. The “Quartiers Solidaires” – “Solidarity Neighbourhoods” – initiative was created with the aim of creating, renewing, developing and maintaining social connections, and in this way improving the life quality and integration of elderly people in a community or urban neighbourhood. The same background gave rise to the currently running research project “Réseau Solidaire” – “Solidarity Network” –, launched by EPFL+ECAL LAB and Pro Senectute. This project investigates the question how digital communication and the necessary interfaces – of mobile phones, for example – need to be planned and designed so as to make them user-friendly for elderly people. Although the project is still far from completion, an important finding has already emerged – contrary to common opinion, elderly people are actually well capable of getting to grips with new technology and willing to do so, if suitable opportunities are offered.

Comments of the nominators

Loneliness in old age is a social problem that continues to be underestimated – even though it has been known for a long time that lack of social contact can be just as deleterious to health as smoking or excessive alcoholic consumption. Against this background, the adaptation of digital means of communication to the possibilities and needs of the elderly is an important research project, in which design-related, technical and didactic aspects have to be taken into account. The relevance of this research speaks for itself, and we would like to take this opportunity of expressly welcoming and supporting it.