In this paper we present the research that examines the properties of architectural environment that is especially meaningful for the elderly people quality of life – the geriatric hospital and social housing for the elderly people. Recent demographic trends in European society are simultaneously the source of changes in social activities area and source of changes in satisfying the personal and health needs. We assume that together with social policy instruments there are number of spatial conditions supporting activity of elderly people and preventing social exclusion. The space in geriatric centers could enhance where possible the functional abilities of older patients or residents, according to the rules of universal design. There are some physical design elements of a built environment that have been shown to meet the needs of this population. The research is an exploratory case study and comparative analysis of both objects category - of geriatric hospitals and social housing for the elderly people in Poland and in Western Europe. It is revealed that there are significant distinctions between Polish and West European examples in main spatial structure categories:

  • in scale of the immediate surroundings of the building,
  • in scale of the building – functional features,
  • in scale of patient’s /resident’s area.

The state of Polish geriatric hospitals and nursing facilities is a result of functional, technical and procedural negligence. However demographic trends increase the demand for centers of these kind and for readjustment the services quality to present requirements. Therefore – executed researches indicated the main trends in the spatial and functional alteration of geriatric hospitals and social housing for the elderly. From sustainable development point of view the geriatric centers require in broaden range of:

  • growth of treatment process efficiency and bringing back/keep the elderly in their living environment,
  • shaping the better quality of life,
  • implementation or consolidation of institutional support for geriatric centers.

In further explorations we assume the interdisciplinary approach. We assume cooperation in research group consisted of architects, sociologists and geriatric specialists. Planned quality analyses will be conducted on selected currently functioning geriatric hospital in Katowice and on nursing facilities in Upper Silesia. It is expected that the research program also provide building the research methodology useful in the development of optimal model of geriatric hospitals and social housing for the elderly integrated with institutional support for building the sustainable society.