Hosten — A Senior-friendly Communal Dining & Social Experience
While older adults struggle with physical and mental challenges, we collaborated with a local non-profit organization, ONEgeneration Senior Enrichment Center in Los Angeles, to provide a better experience for them in the post-pandemic era.
Our program Hosten comes in three components. It facilitates a healthier lifestyle by providing a nutritional-enriched farmers' market, lively co-cooking events, and a fun dining & socializing experience for older adults. We aim to bring older adults and young generations together safely with food.
Hosten Community System
Check In/Check Out
Nutritious Bento Box
Digital Experience and Nutritious Recipe
Hosten is a holistic experience to facilitate a healthier lifestyle for older adults. In the post-pandemic era, Hosten provides an experience that comes in three essential parts: A nutritional-enriched farmers' market, a communal central kitchen connected to a community garden, and a shared dining space. At the accessible farmers' market, we gather the freshest ingredients from local farms and sort them based on nutritional values. Our older adults' audience gets to choose healthy ingredients with helpful information to learn about dietary values and multi-cultural recipes. With the help of our featured local chefs, our central kitchen runs co-creation classes. Our guests can learn healthy recipes and share their cultural recipes along with their classmates. In the end, the shared dining space is where the celebration happens. We shift the experience of social distancing into a therapeutic table landscape for people to socialize, enjoy a sense of belonging, and their delicious meals with a safety protocol. Hosten aims to provide a platform for the older adults and local farmers during the post-pandemic time. We want to keep our community involved by partnering with a local non-profit organization, ONEgeneration, to make sure our project directly responds to users' pain points.
Population aging is the dominant global demographic trend of the 21st century. In the Los Angeles Region, the older adult population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. By 2030, one in every three Californians will be over the age of 50, and the proportion of those over 65 will have increased to 17 percent. 2020 has been the most challenging year in decades for most of us because of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Older adults have faced significant challenges, especially those who are the most vulnerable and dependent on social resources.
In co-creating with our partner, the non-profit ONEgeneration Senior Enrichment Center, the question that came right to our mind was, how might we support older adults after this challenging time? In the post-pandemic era, older adults are facing significant challenges in maintaining their physical and mental health. One-fourth of older adults are considered to be socially isolated. This has long been a topic that hasn't been discussed enough. Additionally, the physical, mental and social aspects are keys to their healthy circle; these factors influence older adults' dietary intake. For example, we learned from our research with a geriatric physician that isolation can lead to depression, which in turn adversely affects dietary intake. With these challenges in mind, we decided to create an ecosystem for older adults that involves services and products tied to food—a great connector between people.
Hosten creates a sense of community around cooking and sharing food in a warm and friendly communal space. Hosten will be located near Lake Balboa Park in Los Angeles, a convenient location for participants of ONEgeneration, which can publicize the upcoming cooking classes and events. Our system will be implemented in two phases: current pandemic time and post-pandemic, with a focus on the post-pandemic time. Guests sign up for a particular event via our Hosten app, and staff at ONEgeneration can assist guests with a reservation if necessary. Once on-site, guests can enter a shaded pavilion-like structure where farmers have set up a market. The market is divided into six areas based on different nutrition types. Coming out of the market, guests will be embraced by a community garden with shaded benches that provide herbs and spices for the community kitchen. The community kitchen is the center of the whole space, where we celebrate food, health and connect generations. Guests can gather around the community kitchen's central stage, accompanied by a circular set of individual cooking stations. Our chef of the day will demonstrate how to cook a specific dish or entire meal at the station. The participants will also prepare a dish from their hometowns to share their families' rich food cultures across generations. After the meal is ready, guests could assemble their own bento set based on their dietary needs. In the end, older adults could enjoy their food at a dining space that is wheelchair accessible and where seats are appropriately socially distanced. The curvy table is accentuated on top by a Zen-garden-like design of flowing grooves. Guests can have their food prepared to-go Bento boxes that are textured for hands to grasp and hold easily and colorfully designed according to our nutritional system. Nearby, guests can take a recipe card (with nutritional facts) from the day's lesson so they can recreate the meal at home.
What makes our system unique is that we truly embraced the co-creation process while we developed our ideas. We frequently interviewed doctors, experts, and our users to conduct secondary research and make incremental improvements to our concept. We also made prototypes to test with our users and get instant feedback. Every step in our design process has our users, the older adults, involved for more direct conversations. We virtually met with our co-creation partners from the local community every week while refining our concept. The result, Hosten, is an experience built for our users and an experience created with our users. We aim to deliver a smooth user journey for our users and public system by generating our concepts. To make sure our system is senior-friendly, we developed our spatial components, hardware, and digital interface with our user's physical and cognitive conditions in mind. Our inclusive space is a hundred percent wheelchair friendly with handrails to support our guests. We also provide wheelchairs, walkers, and walking sticks to check out. We have both digital assistants and volunteers to guide our guests throughout the experience. From research to concept development, we observed and listened to users' needs.
Our project benefits our knowledge partner, ONEgeneration, in three major ways. First, Hosten bridges local resources to meet older adults' needs, with potential extra revenues for ONEgeneration. Hosten sells food and services in a fair and ethical way. Second, Hosten provides events with a multipurpose space that enriches ONEgeneration's current offerings. Our space is environmentally-friendly and easily convertible for different occasions. Third, Hosten collaborates with its current nutritional teams to better serve its elderly guests with healthy and safe meals. We help ONEgeneration to create nutritionally balanced meals dedicated to individual's needs based on their health records in our system.
Our project is also sustainable and eco-friendly. One key aspect of it is the roof structure. Since we are located in California, we want to provide safe shading for older adults with a passive shading strategy. The market and dining space have slanted roofs facing the south, optimally oriented for solar panels & shading. The community kitchen has shading panels adjustable towards the time and need. Green facade panels have two functions; one, the market's facades provide greenery and help cool down the air during the daytime. Second, the green panels also adapt to sunlight as it rotates for better photosynthesis. The farmer's market and the shared dining rooms are powered with solar panels on the roof. The main materials are sustainably sourced engineered wood with fabric shading sails, which are environmentally friendly and bring back the connection of nature. The structure is design to be efficiently pre-fabricated for ease of assembling on-site. Natural boundaries such as fruit trees and bushes around the space provide natural acoustic barriers from the skatepark nearby.
More importantly, our project dramatically benefits society. By partnering with the local non-profit organization ONEgeneration, Hosten brings empowerment to the community. Our senior-friendly farmers' market gathers fresh ingredients from local farms and safely provides them to older adults. Older adults could learn about nutrition and dietary information from the accessible market. The market staff also includes older adults, which gives them new job opportunities and supports their autonomy and a sense of purpose. Our community kitchen featuring local chefs is a co-created classroom for older adults to learn healthy recipes and share their cultural recipes across generations. Hosten supports local chefs by having them employed and supports local farmers by vertically selling their seasonal produce. And the shared dining experience shifts the social distance into a therapeutic table landscape for people to socialize while enjoying their meal. Our guests include local older adults, farmers, and young volunteers. Hosten creates a new community hub for the city and brings different generations together with food. We are Hosten. We are the host who invites our guests to connect with new friends, share their recipes, and cultivate a healthier lifestyle by cooking with local harvest and dining together.