Scheldehof Residential Care Centre is a nursing facility built by Atelier PRO Architects as a redevelopment project. It is located in the heart of the historical site of Vlissingen and its surroundings, Netherlands. Completed in the year 2017, the Scheldehof Residential care Centre was previously a monumental metal sheet factory on a shipyard that has now been turned into a nursing center by the architects. 

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Scheldehof Residential Care Centre _©Ronald Tilleman

Atelier PRO Architects are known for recognizing and utilizing the unnoticed beauty of existing buildings and setting benchmarks for future generations. Their design strategies revolve around the concept of Genius Loci and Context. The team focuses on the site’s historical background and considers retaining its values while redeveloping the structures.  

Design Philosophy

In the Scheldehof Care Centre project, the architects maintained this philosophy and worked in harmony with the surroundings. The site was located in a shipyard having distinguished iron monuments from the shipbuilding past and was considered a neglected industrial area. It resides in an area with a declining population rate. But Atelier PRO managed to bridge the scaled differences during restoration and transformed the space into an operating area by attracting tourists and visitors into the space.  

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Ground floor plan _©Archdaily

“The response to the project since the completion has been hugely positive,” says WVO Zorg, the client. 

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First floor plan _©Archdaily

Planning and Layout

The building comprises 55 apartments for somatic care, 6 groups of accommodations for the psychogeriatric residents, and 54 apartments for care and auxiliary life. Apart from these, on the ground floor, it also houses a restaurant (for social events), a training and education room, a hairdresser, studios, shops, a physiotherapy room, an auditorium theater hall, and a parking lot.

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External facade _©Source Ronald Tilleman

The design process started with lifting the covered front of the existing structure and opening it partly with the use of glass. The heavy, massive doors were opened up reducing the “sturdy” nature of the block and giving it functionality. The designers later added a glass “box” to the ground floor overlooking the waterfront. 

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Design process diagram_©Atelier PRO
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Entrance of the building with glass and metal doors _©Ronald Tilleman

The building accommodates three floors of living environment. The volumes containing the residential units hang like individual furniture items in the middle of the living spaces. And they surround the winter garden. 

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Winter Garden _©Ronald Tilleman

The ground floor of the building acts like a public area as it is accessible to non-residents of the building. Considering it is a nursing home for patients who require intensive care and the users cannot venture out into the city, the designers accommodated public facilities on the ground floor so that they are accessible to outsiders. Hence, making the place look less like a hospital and giving it a homely feeling.  

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Public restaurant on ground floor_©Ronald Tilleman

“You only have to venture down one floor to be a part of the community – that’s the idea.” explains the designer. 

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Public restaurant on ground floor_©Ronald Tilleman

Another important aspect while designing for the architects was to create a cozy and genuine environment for the users. They decorated the environment to reduce the “institutional nature” of the care center and give it the feel of “home”. The residential units are designed to represent a usual housing environment. They are accessible only through the living room (like in an ideal house setting) and are linked from the inside with service functions.  

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Retaining the old crane at the entrance _©Ronald Tilleman
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Retaining the old crane at the entrance _©Ronald Tilleman

Materials and Construction

The materials used in the construction retain the feeling of home construction-wise. Externally the designers have used exposed brick featuring the rawness of the material. Internally along with wood and concrete, the designers retained the mark of the previous shipyard by using exposed, heavy metal structures.  

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Metal frames during the demolishing process _©Ronald Tilleman
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Metal frames during the construction process _©Ronald Tilleman

The rooms are spacious and are designed considering the requirements of the users. By resembling a typical house as much as possible, they aim to create a comfortable environment for users. The residential units for patients with dementia were designed carefully and the environment fosters them to move around the space harmlessly.  

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Living room parkour instead of corridors with memory walls next to the house entrances where personal attributes from the past can be hung _©Ronald Tilleman
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Internal residential units _©Ronald Tilleman

Each apartment has lifts for staff use that are built considerately and do not hinder the movements of the residents. The services are well hidden behind the panels in the lobby area and in case of a breakdown, the movement of the maintenance personnel would not hamper the privacy of the users. 

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Services hidden behind the panels in lobby area _©Ronald Tilleman
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Services hidden behind the panels in lobby area _©Ronald Tilleman

Sustainability

Throughout the design, the user roams around the spaces through sheltered inner gardens intensifying the senses using specific elements. The thoughtful design solutions make the units easy to be transformed in the future. The apartments are futuristic meaning they can be adapted as per the requirements of users from different generations. They are practical and cater to all types of users. 

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Entrance area _©Ronald Tilleman
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south facade with Corten steel _©Ronald Tilleman
Connection of existing and new building _©Ronald Tilleman

The structure that adheres to the location history, the Scheldehof Residential Care Centre won the WAN Award for Healthcare in 2018. During the same year, it was also awarded the Architecture, Construction, and Design Award under Housing category and has set an example for future architects to create designs that not only satisfy clients’ needs; but also create an environment that encourages users and makes them feel at home.  

References:

The Design Story (no date) Scheldehof Residential Care Center by atelier pro architects, The Design Story. Available at: https://www.thedesignstory.com/blog/architecture/scheldehof-residential-care-center-by-atelier-pro-architects 

Kristensen, D. et al. (no date) Transformation Scheldehof Residential Care Centre, Vlissingen, atelier PRO. Available at: https://www.atelierpro.nl/en/projects/183/47 

Kristensen, D. et al. (no date) Scheldehof Residential Care Centre Interior, Vlissingen, atelier PRO. Available at: https://www.atelierpro.nl/en/projects/225/38 

Schaatsbergen, R. (no date) Nieuwbouw én Transformatie Vormen Integraal Stukje Vlissingen, Stedebouw & Architectuur. Available at: https://www.stedebouwarchitectuur.nl/artikel/nieuwbouw-en-transformatie-vormen-integraal-stukje-vlissingen 

Muis, R. (no date) Vlissings Woonzorgcentrum in industriële sfeer, Architectenweb. Available at: https://architectenweb.nl/nieuws/artikel.aspx?ID=42048

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