The number of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease are steadily increasing in Europe. Both among the aging part of the population with longer life expectancies, but also for people under 65. A negative development that today - and increasingly in the future - will put the healthcare sector under pressure and calls for new approaches to the build environment. Today, nursing homes find it difficult to meet patients gradually changed and very individual needs. The progressive worsening of the Alzheimer’s disease is often the issue that is providing both patients and staff with new challenges.
NORD Architects has over the past 10 years developed buildings that meet current and changing conditions in the healthcare sector, and the studio has just won an international competition with a building for people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in the town of Dax in France.
According to partner at NORD Architects Morten Gregersen the therapeutic solution is not necessarily found in the buildings themselves, but the evidence has gradually build up, that buildings which respect people's personal needs for privacy and create a homely atmosphere, have a much higher efficiency rate when measured in recovery times and result in generally lower costs in care and medication.
In buildings such as the Centre for Cancer and Health in Copenhagen and New Urban Hospice in Frederiksberg, the studio has previously developed new types of facilities for the healthcare sector, where the understanding of patients' needs for privacy and respect for personal dignity is the primary focus. "We have shown that solutions can be tailored through the involvement of users and developers in the creative design processes, without it costing the building or society extra - in either the short or long term. It's basically rooted in a deep curiosity about the understanding of both individual user patterns and general societal challenges. And we believe that the experience of the development of major welfare buildings in Denmark and Scandinavia is general knowledge that with benefit can and should be exported. "
In the winning competition entry "Alzheimer village" everything is arranged to accommodate a gradual inclusion of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease and their relatives in a centre that contains familiar elements from the residents' previous lives, such as a local shop, hairdresser, restaurants, cultural centre and a healthcare centre positioned as small houses in a beautiful landscape. Everything is designed taking inspiration from local building tradition, which gives residents a sense of being able to maintain a relatively normal and recognisable everyday life in an otherwise confusing new reality.
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