The first thing that one finds on googling spaces for the elderly is a bunch of articles on how to build for the elderly, what to keep in mind and what to avoid, but very few examples of spaces that exist. The classic GI Joe fallacy of how knowing does not mean doing is seen here. However, a few architects have taken the time to truly understand and acknowledge senior citizens and make spaces convenient for them and inclusive of them.
1. Ibihaven – Slagelse, Denmark
The building takes its inspiration from the Greek agora. It has 46 living units around a communal courtyard which encompasses a workshop, exercises, library, and lounge amidst a series of small gardens. The communal space at the centre is made of a grid of cross-laminated timber columns. The series of gardens help create communal meeting spaces for small and large community groups to come together. The green and the wooden columns make it seem almost like the building is a part of nature and not an urban space which largely improves the mood of the elderly.
2. Sheltered Housing – Taradell, Spain
The sheltered housing project is between two party walls, predominantly built for older adults who live alone and low-income families looking for temporary housing. It is a 15 x 20m building with two floors above ground; towards the back, it opens up to a courtyard and in the front has openings that look onto the street, with balconettes for windows, for the occupants to add planters to the balconies.
3. De Korenbloem – Kortrijk, Belgium
The building is a repurposed historic villa, used to house people with early-onset dementia and the elderly with stroke disabilities, and somatic symptom disorders. The building links with the neighborhood and a landscaped park to maintain a good relationship with the community and engage in communal activities.
4. John C Anderson Apartments – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This building is the first LGBT-friendly senior housing in the eastern United states. DMH founded a non-profit organization focused on addressing the needs of seniors and youth of the LGBT community along with a building developer that brought this structure to life. The DMH fund brought the community the opportunity to be active participants throughout the detailed design and construction phases and was assured that they would be considered and involved in all major changes.
5. Nest Inn – Dehradun, India
Lying on the foothills of the Himalayas is a facility for assisted living, that is, tucked within the urban city but hidden from the city, by its orchard ecosystem. The existing site consisted of an old British bungalow as well, the architects maintained the line of sight with that building, and almost celebrated it. The building is a semi-circle facing the bungalow. The bedrooms, meditation hall, living and dining as well as event hall are all connected through a singly loaded corridor facing the bungalow, whereas the bedrooms open up to the thick orchards on the backside. This housing unit is like a getaway from the city while still being connected to the city.
6. Alzheimer’s Village – Dax, France
The main concept behind this building was to create a safe space for the elderly with dementia, and one of the key ideas was to create recognizability in the everyday lives of elders for them to feel safe. Therefore, the entire building is constructed using a lot of local elements like arches and local everyday spaces, like hairdressers and grocery stores. Along with this, they also have pockets of green space for walking and gathering and negligible obstructed views.
7. Les Hallates Senior Housing – Le Havre, France
The building is a retirement home lying in a residential area, it has a U-shaped plan which faces the road, and the space in between the U-shape is used for landscaping. The housing offers medical units for the benefit of the elderly and it is built on sloping land to offer stunning views of the topography which would enhance the comfort of the residents.
8. Sakuragien – Aomori Elderly Nursing Home – Mutsu, Japan
The retirement home in Japan is predominantly to bring in nature, that is the heavy snowfall during the winter. To provide a sense of individuality, the rooms on the first floor look into the surrounding scenery of trees and heavy snowfall. The radial finger-like shape in the plan was to create a highly efficient system for the people that take care of the elderly.
9. Housing for Elderly People – Huningue, France
This housing is located on the banks of the Rhine river, with houses that overlook the river, it has a brick facade that manipulates the kind of light entering the building, and all central and communal spaces are placed in a manner that promotes maximum social interaction. The red concrete, terracotta tiles, and brick walls, all attempt to create a benevolent atmosphere for the residents.
10. Jintang Community Experience Center – Chengdu, China
The building is mainly aimed at providing fully pensioned products for the elderly, it is an attempt to identify a livable model for the future of China. It is a building that focuses largely on square courtyards, the building adopts different experiences based on the facade. The outward side emphasizes the urban street whereas the inward white focuses on the livability of the courtyard landscape.
- ArchDaily. (2020a). Jintang Community Experience Center / Unite-Create-Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/944281/jintang-community-experience-center-unite-create-architects [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- ArchDaily. (2020b). Les Hallates Senior Housing / Agapé. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/950388/les-hallates-senior-housing-agape [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- ArchDaily. (2020c). Sakuragien – Aomori Elderly Nursing Home / waiwai. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/938093/sakuragien-nil-aomori-elderly-nursing-home-waiwai [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- ArchDaily. (2021a). Alzheimers Village / NORD Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/973948/alzheimers-villa-nord-architects?ad_source=search&ad_medium=projects_tab [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- ArchDaily. (2021b). Nest Inn / Myspace Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/958796/nest-inn-myspace-architects [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- ArchDaily. (2022). Sheltered Housing in Taradell / Forgas Arquitectes + Gammarquitectura. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/980366/sheltered-housing-in-taradell-forgas-arquitectes-plus-gammarquitectura?ad_source=search&ad_medium=projects_tab [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- Dezeen. (n.d.). De Korenbloem | Longlists | Dezeen Awards 2021. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/awards/2021/longlists/de-korenbloem/ [Accessed 1 May 2022].
- Dezeen. (2018). Dominique Coulon adopts terracotta tones for riverside retirement home near Basel. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2018/09/26/dominique-coulon-associes-housing-elderly-people-brick-terracotta/.
- Dezeen. (2021). Tetris and Sangberg design senior housing around a covered communal courtyard. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/11/17/tetris-sangberg-agorahaverne-ibihaven-architecture-denmark/.