Hanna Fokken

Hanna Fokken

A small World of Memories. RWTH Aachen (Germany)

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One of the future challenges in Europe will be the increase of dementia cases in our society. Therefore, the quality and conception of dementia homes gains in significance. This project works with a new housing typology, the so-called Dementia Village. It strives to apply the concept of the milieu therapy onto a built environment. The milieu therapy attempts to heighten the patient’s well-being and everyday competency by compensating for the limitations caused by the disease. This is being facilitated by a manageable, stress-free, but stimulating environment.

In contrast to conventional nursing homes, the functional units are not located in one large building complex but form a decentralized structure in several small dwellings. The main reference is that of a village and a city district. The familiar appearance of the domestic environment ensures a high degree of normality and freedom in everyday life. This is realized by integrating physical, emotional and especially typical references from the surrounding area, the Ruhrgebiet. These elements aim to form a collectively felt notion of home by densifying and emphasizing architectural connotations and by creating an architecture which uses the whole scope of its expression.

The stationary house-communities are located in small-scale buildings which either remind of single-family houses, apartments within a housing block or urban city apartments. In addition to the residential buildings, there is also a cafe, a theatre, a doctor’s office and two kiosks. These internal public functions can be visited independently by the inhabitants and thus restore a little of the inhabitants’ self-determination. The research by Kevin Lynch inspired to create an easy accessible orientation scheme by carefully designing the districts, paths, edges, nodes and landmarks. The result is a chain of streets, courtyards and squares with individual character, resembling just another typical neighbourhood in the Ruhrgebiet.

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