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Magdalena Czopka - "Modular system of centers for people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities"

05 of December '23
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2022

Magdalena Czopka

Wydział Architektury Politechniki Gdańskiej
Dr. Małgorzata Skrzypek-Łachińska

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture"

The thesis consists of two compatible elements: an analysis of spatial needs for people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities, on the basis of which the concept of a model universal way of designing a center using a tool such as modular architecture was created.

rodzaje ośrodków

types of centers

© Magdalena Czopka

The research work allowed me to distinguish four variants of center development. Such a design assumption is intended to systematize, to normalize the most important aspects of this type of centers. Assumptions differ primarily in location, form of development, group of users with special needs and functions located in a given center. I was keen not to create enclaves closed to society, but a place conducive to integration and "taming" the concept of intellectual disability.

Punktowiec, aksonometria         Punktowiec, widok od ogrodu

block, axonometry and view from the garden

© Magdalena Czopka

What fate awaits sick people after the death of their caregivers? Who will provide them with an adequate livelihood? It's not about the bare minimum of existence, but care at a sufficiently high level, taking care of multifaceted development. The theme of disability has long been present in architectural and urban design, but centers of this type in Poland still do not have a standardized design system, their number is insufficient, and the quality of public facilities leaves much to be desired. They are most often built on the initiative of parents or foundations, the budget is insufficient, and there are far more willing residents than available places.

Plomba, aksonometria        Plomba, wizualizacja

infill building, axonometry and visualization

© Magdalena Czopka

Few disabilities are fraught with as many myths as Down syndrome. Meanwhile, it is a genetic defect that causes abnormalities in the body that require, like other conditions, appropriate developmental support. To expand knowledge on the subject, I decided to use the scientific method of a diagnostic survey. The basis for the design guidelines was to conduct seven interviews with institutions supporting people with intellectual disabilities, a psychologist (work progress consultation) and a parent of a child with Down syndrome, to analyze scientific publications, articles and films on the subject.

Parterowiec, aksonometria        Parterowiec, elewacja ogrodowa

single-storey building, axonometry and garden elevation

© Magdalena Czopka

The solution to many of the problems I was able to isolate after the interviews was to create a system for designing centers that would enable them to be implemented as cheaply and quickly as possible, resulting in an increase in the number of facilities. I created the system using a tool such as modular architecture, combining the individual functions like building blocks assembling into a whole. But how to test whether a system works in reality, and how to prove its plasticity and flexibility? So I identified four types of centers to translate the design idea into architecture.

Osada, aksonometria        Osada, wizualizacja

hamlet, axonometry and visualization

© Magdalena Czopka

The basic principle I followed was to break the taboo and show that illness is a natural part of our lives. Instead of pretending that there is no problem, it is worth focusing on minimizing it and concrete solutions. Realizing that the subject is very complex on many levels, in my work I aimed to show the possibilities that architecture has, that it can also be a tool to help others.

Magdalena CZOPKA

Illustrations: © Author

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