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Matylda Wolska – "Supportive home for people with mild intellectual disabilities"

17 of January '24
Technical data
Type: engineering thesis
Year of defense: 2023

Matylda Wolska

Wydział Architektury Politechniki Warszawskiej
Prof. Jan Słyk

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture"

The task was to design an inclusive and dosocial architecture, based on multi-sensory analog experience, atavistic associations, holistic approach and psychosocial perspective. The complex is intended, on the one hand, to help integrate people with mild intellectual disabilities into society and give them a sense of self-determination, and on the other hand, to build a local identity around the new agora, strengthening neighborhood ties and fostering a sense of belonging to the group.

widok z lotu ptaka

bird's eye view

© Matylda Wolska

When looking for a site for the community center project, I focused on locations where the center would have a chance to become something more. The building was to complement the surrounding context with a social-creative function as well, building it with the residents of the facility. People with disabilities were to enter community life, while at the same time focusing new local life around them.
The home helps people with mild intellectual disabilities providing them with their own housing, developing soft skills, a sense of belonging to a group and giving them financial independence. It also creates a village agora in the form of a park that supports local identity and place identity. The project consists of three parts: a park, a café and a house; shifting from a public function toward increasing intimacy.

powiązanie kawiarni z domem wspomagającym

Linking the café to the supporting house

© Matylda Wolska

supportive home

The house is intended to help integrate people with mild intellectual disabilities into society and give them a sense of self-determination. Support at the center takes place in three fields: for the individual person to function more comfortably; by creating relationships between assisted persons; and outside the home by rooting out patterns of action.

widok domu wspomagającegodom wspomagający

assisted home

© Matylda Wolska

Support for the individual person is based on providing privacy and personal space, stress control and choices, sensory hygiene, space organization, domestication, a sense of security. Between the assisted persons, it is based on the application of the principle of subsidiarity, a sense of belonging to a group, the application of shades of closeness, distance and intimacy. Outside the home, in turn, on the application of behaviors and activities learned at home, independence.


The Fountain House Foundation has developed a model of social practices as a rehabilitation method in which the main tool is work. The model is based on three aspects: meaningful relationships, meaningful work tasks and a supportive environment. Work in the café is intended to be a place to implement these demands.

widok kawiarni

view of the café

© Matylda Wolska

a dosocial place

The design of the house and café was accompanied by a local village park connecting three important buildings: a church, an elementary school and a senior citizen's home. Between the public and private zones are semi-public and semi-private zones. The design is intended to create a landscape of diverse places, ways of spending time. On the one hand, the house opens up, supporting its residents and leads them slowly toward the café. On the other, the park leads in an increasingly informal direction. These two vectors meet in the café at a communal table.

schemat ustawienia obiektów, sprzężenie parku z kawiarnią i domem wspomagającym; ustawienie kierunków otwarć obiektów        schemat prywatności; katalog odcieni szarości stref półprywatnych i półpublicznych; brak jasnej granicy między strefą publiczną a prywatną

diagrams of object setting and privacy

© Matylda Wolska

interaction with the ecosystem

With greenery. The house is part of the ecosystem, it interacts with it and adapts to it. The foundational greenery is supplemented with native species. One form of sensory rehabilitation is working in the garden, growing herbs and an orchard with forest fruits.

interakcje z zielenią

interacting with greenery

© Matylda Wolska

With air. The house has a multi-plan composition, where "space is defined as experience". Various openings reveal successive plans, allowing flow between them. Air, moisture and smells circulate. Factors such as weather, seasons, diurnal cycle or time produce different sensations of place.

interakcje z powietrzem

interactions with the air

© Matylda Wolska

Matylda Wolska

Illustrations: © Author

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