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Student dementia village project

Dobrawa Bies
03 of January '23

A {tag:studenci} from the Silesian University of Technology took on the challenge of creating a complex of facilities for people with neurodegenerative diseases. Her proposal is an architectural and urban premise, a kind of modern village whose residents can maintain autonomy. The designed complex consists of two types of residential units, common facilities, a center and numerous green areas.

The presented project "Village without memory. Concept of interdisciplinary spatial solutions for people affected by neurodegenerative diseases" is a master's thesis created under the direction of Dr. Jan Kubec in the Department of Residential and Public Utility Architecture Design at the Faculty of Architecture, Silesian University of Technology.

Projekt wioski dla osób z chorobami neurodegeneracyjnymi, widok z lotu ptaka

design of a village for people with neurodegenerative diseases, bird's eye view

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

The subject of my work is the creation of an architectural and urban planning assumption of a complex of facilities aimed at demented people, with particular attention to the implementation of diverse internal and external spaces and their impact on the quality of life and orientation in space. The main goal is to treat the issue of designing for people affected by neurodegenerative diseases as a starting point for creating interdisciplinary solutions for the built environment that can benefit both the affected people, their caregivers and the rest of society," Magdalena Wojtowicz introduces.

Projekt wioski, analiza urbanistyczna

village design, urban planning analysis

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

idea of a contemporary village

The author's premise was to create a contemporary vision of housing and care, providing a friendly and safe place for people with dementia to live. The design also took into account the environment, stimulating the senses and encouraging residents to engage in various activities.

Such a solution is in line with the ideas of the Dutch village of De Hogeweyk, whose motto is "living a lifestyle, just like before." To a large extent, the idea is to create a non-institutional atmosphere, creating a model of community living while establishing outdoor spaces as integral areas of residents' lives. The project idea is rooted in contemporary research showing that the well-being of the elderly is strongly correlated with an attractive green outdoor environment and social interactions. For this reason, important parameters in the spatial design were the arrangement of comfortable homes for the elderly, offering easy access to their own gardens, outdoor spaces and common facilities, the architect explains.

Projekt wioski, zagospodarowanie terenu

development of the village area

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

mini settlements and neighborhoods

The proposed village consists of small groups of dwellings, built with repeating elements, forming mini neighborhoods grouped around courtyards. A total of twenty-four houses are proposed, grouped in threes forming eight neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are connected by a transportation network leading to the village center. Paths leading through abundant greenery, provide an opportunity to commune with nature, providing dementia patients with sensory stimuli.

Centrum wioski stanowi plac wokół którego znajdują się budynki wspólne

The center of the village is a square, around which there are common buildings

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

In the center of the establishment the author placed the main square, which serves as a market. This area is surrounded by a complex of five common buildings, accessible to all, integrating the community of all neighborhoods. The common buildings include public rooms, a community and health center, a restaurant, a café, an auditorium, music halls, a gym, a wellness and physiotherapy area, a library, art and carpentry workshops.

Rzut zespołu głównego

projection of the square and common buildings

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

friendly residential units

The central space is surrounded on both sides by twelve residential buildings. The western part is made up of units designed for people in the early stages of the disease, still maintaining autonomy and living with family and relatives (Type A). The eastern part, on the other hand, is given over to residents in the advanced stages of the disease.

Przekrój mieszkań, typ A

Cross-section of apartments, type A

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

Type B consists of twelve private rooms for one or two people. The rooms are surrounded by a common space with a staff, dining area and an area for daily meetings and activities. The enclave can accommodate up to three hundred and thirty-six residents.

Przekrój zespołu mieszkaniowego typ B

Cross-section of the Type B residential complex

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

The common courtyards of the residential units correspond to different types of social spaces and give the complex the structure of the aforementioned, eight neighborhoods. Each courtyard has a specific botanical character. The houses are arranged in a landscape where patients can move freely and safely. Respecting the character and scale of the immediate neighborhood, the author limited the residential buildings to one story and organized them to resemble a cluster of "huts." Each unit is organized around an atrium, with apartments or rooms arranged around the perimeter of the buildings, providing views of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, circulation and public spaces open onto the inner atriums.

Wewnętrzne atrium jednostki mieszkalnej

The interior atrium of a residential unit

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

All buildings are model, planned as modular, and can be modified according to needs, the size of the planned units and the location of the buildings. Each residential unit has been designed and arranged like a home. Private bedrooms with bathrooms are adapted for people with dementia and can be decorated and furnished according to the preferences of future residents.

Rzut jednostki mieszkalnej, typ A Rzut zespołu jednostek mieszkaniowych, typ B

A floor plan of a type A and type B residential unit

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

Other areas of the unit are designed to encourage activity, socialization and engagement. The units, which consist of rooms, have low windows that allow observation of the surroundings from bed level. The light concept and clear floor plan layout provide safe and easy orientation for residents.

Przekrój podłużny zespołu głównego

longitudinal cross-section of the main building complex

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

surrounded by nature

The cottages are surrounded by a large park with paths, gardens and outdoor spaces suitable for various activities throughout the year. A circular path leading along with benches for relaxation is located next to various attractions - a sensory garden for quiet contemplation, or a boules court. The proposed small green gardens allow residents to spend time outdoors on their own. The premise includes sensory gardens, a courtyard with a vegetable field, terraces, lawns for games, natural meadows, a playground, picnic space, sports fields and even a water garden with a beach and mini fishery. The author also introduced a mini farm, making the animals living there an integral part of the therapy.

Na terenie wioski umieszczono liczne tereny rekreacyjne

Numerous recreational areas have been placed in the village

© Magdalena Wojtowicz

In the "Village Without Memory," everything has been arranged in such a way as to allow the gradual inclusion of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease and their loved ones in a center containing elements familiar to the residents' previous lives. The village offers housing and care in an environment that resembles the outside world. This will alleviate any sense of rupture with the past in patients, while preserving autonomy and daily routines that can help slow the progression of dementia, Magdalena Wojtowicz concludes.

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