10 September 2015

Elderly clinic in use

Elderly clinic in use

If you ask Elza Heemskerk what she prefers working on, a large and leading utilitarian building or a care building with a low budget, she immediately chooses the care project. Her passion is devoted to social real estate. This passion can clearly be seen in the new elderly clinic in Castricum which she co-designed for the Parnassia Groep.

The clinic was built for elderly people with diverse psycho geriatric conditions, who temporarily require intensive care before returning back home. The residents often have limited sight, hearing and movement. On top of that they go through psychological conditions, varying from incomprehension to memory loss and the inability to process stimuli. Elza explains; “For these people it’s important to create an environment with a low factor of stimuli that ‘normalises’ their day and night rhythm. This was one of the reasons to style the building as a clinic, instead of simulating the home environment.”

The Parnassia Groep knows its clients very well and provided us with an extensive Program of Demands. Together with the care provider this program was further elaborated in workshops and visits to reference projects. “My role as an architect was to visualize the program and to provide insight in the underlying relations. To me it was very important to take the experience of the clients as the starting point for the design and to make sure they can retain as much control of their own lives as possible.”

A fine example of this is the translation of Parnassia’s philosophy of encouraging the freedom of movement and offering diversity to the residents. “We made four living rooms, varying in size and each with its own atmosphere and use. Hereby residents are provided with the choice where to sit and with whom. The living rooms are separated from one another, but connected by a intermediary open kitchen. Along with visual oversight this offers the opportunity to involve residents in cooking and to improve their self-reliance.”

The building is based on a linear and symmetric layout, so residents can easily find their way and won’t get disoriented. “Hallways never have a dead end and are part of a walking-route along several spaces. This route always offers a view on the outside world and is illuminated by an abundance of daylight. The low parapets stimulate the connection with the outside world and ‘the street’. To me this was one of the important aspects of a successful project.”

More information: Elza Heemskerk