Architectural design for dementia

A student in the Netherlands has attempted to get to grips with the complex area of architectural design for dementia. Iga Potok’s research is based on two case studies of community living in Europe. She wanted to find out how architectural design can provide stimuli to prevent or delay cognitive impairments. In addition, Potok looked at dwelling design, and neighbourhood design that fosters contact between generations.

Kalkbreite Housing Cooperative by Müller Sigrist Architekten. This project used collaborative building processes using residents’ opinions. Quotes from the participants provide the back story. Photo credit Martin Stollenwerk.

A four storey apartment building with lots of open space for people to gain planned and unplanned social interaction.

The second case study is WohnProjekt Wien Co-Housing in Vienna, which used the same three part method. Part 1: Collaborative building processes and opinions. Part 2: Design of communal spaces, and Part 3: Design of living and half private spaces. This collaborative housing project is home for 67 adults and 25 children.

Some conclusions from the study

Feeling like part of a community was the most significant overlap across the ages. Residents in both housing projects put emphasis on communal functions in the bousing block. Opportunities for social interaction were supported by visual connections between all floors and a sufficient amount of light. Combining multiple collective functions and placing them in a visible location next to busy circulation spaces maximised their use.

The intergenerational aspect was important for all generations. Various apartment types and sizes allows for a healthy mix of people from all walks of life. Flexibility of apartment design offers multiple possible arrangements and future-proofs the space.

In terms of preventing cognitive decline, social interaction was the key element. Architectural design that inspires physical movement reduces the probability of developing dementia and depression. That’s the conclusion of the author.

The title of this chapter of the thesis is Prevention of Cognitive Impairments Through Architectural Design.

The chapter is presented as an illustrated book with many drawings and sketches. With some text presented as drawings, and small font, the accessibility of the document is not optimum. Indeed, some of the script-like text is difficult to read even with good eyesight.

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