Forget me not

“Dwelling in the past, designing for the future”

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Our cities in the Netherlands become more dense, and our population increasingly older. This will increase the pressure on our society and care system. This is especially true in relation to the portion of our population that will be diagnosed with dementia, because in 2040 this amount will have doubled. The focus of this research has been how to densify a city such as Amsterdam, and provide suitable housing for people with dementia.

In this case the choice was to reuse an existing building, located at the intersection of the Gillis van Ledenberchstraat and the Zaagmolenstraat in Amsterdam. In a city such as Amsterdam there are almost no vacant plots available and the existing buildings, public spaces and other characteristics of the city are often protected, making reuse of older buildings a method that can be effective in densifying the city. Not only is the old building reused, but a volume is added on top to be able to create a higher density of housing. In order to do this, the history and structure need to be analyzed as well as the future needs and developments.

The reused building is a compact volume, which is transformed into a building that hosts a co-housing scheme. This is not only housing for people with dementia themselves, but also for their partners. This concept of housing them together seems logical but is not yet being implemented on a large scale. In this way the couples can share the care and be each other’s support system, while at the same time lowering the stress on the caregivers and economy. The ability of couples to stay together when the disease progresses is a more dignified and effective solution than the current standard provides.

The research concluded three design elements of high importance for people with dementia, which were social interaction, contact to nature and accessibility. We see these things as normal necessities in our daily lives but for a person with dementia these elements become unavailable as their world becomes increasingly limited. This is why these elements are available on each floor of the building as well as in the urban plan.

On the ground floor the building offers space for other program to provide for the surrounding residents, integrating the building with the rest of the neighborhood, while at the same time providing inclusion for the people living in the co-housing scheme on the levels above. Two out of the five levels are reserved for the people who are left behind after their partner has passed away. They can also live in a co-housing scheme, preventing isolation and loneliness. In this scheme there is also housing reserved for music students. They can have an affordable place to live and practice music, which is beneficial to people with dementia, while at the same time providing a different dynamic and interaction for the single elderly.

This thesis is an attempt to see different solutions to a growing issue, that integrates elderly in our urban fabric and can be a step towards an inclusive city in the future.