the koekoek

The Koekoek in Veenendaal was one of the first projects after we transferred our focus to the care. From our designing research ‘room for forgetfulness’ we came into contact with the care organisation Quarijn. In collaboration with housing cooperation Patrimonium they were currently working on a new residential care building in Veenendaal. It would create room for 36 residents and there was also a program for a number of supporting facilities like a meeting centre, education areas and medical areas. We received the assignment to design the interior for the complete program.

Research in practice; evidence based design

Therefore, the Koekoek became the first project where we could bring the results of our research ‘room for forgetfulness’ into practice. A vice versa, where we could review, test and research afterwards which influence this had on the residents and the care. All insights that we found within the set themes; light, exercise and observation are translated into the design. Mid 2016 this was also noticed and awarded with the NVTG bouwaward 2016!

Winner NVTG bouwaward 2016!

Long stay care

lighting

So, we worked intensively with the installation advisor on a new lighting plan. Other fixtures were installed, this time in LED. They were placed differently and the light intensity was increased. In the living rooms the lowered ceilings were removed to create space for a plastered ceiling. This did not just provide more height (and optical more room) but also took away a large part of an ‘institutional’ feeling.  Spotlights and high intensity LED panels were included as basic lighting. Whereby connection points were installed above the dining table for ambient fittings. The corridors were equipped with a light level of more than 400 LUX and in the living room, when sitting down and eating we even almost achieved 800 LUX. Together with all parties we selected a smart, pre-programmable system where a day rhythm could be set. So the intensity changed with the rhythm of the day. This promotes a support of the awake-asleep rhythm which contributes in orientation in time (an aspect that can be strongly deregulated with people with dementia).

Day versus night

Text still to be added.

High lighting value versus cosy and homely

A few times people responded to our pictures with the reaction that the corridor still looks very light and sometimes not very cosy. We then strongly refer to our research and underline that what healthy (young) eyes can see, it not what an older and demented brain observes. The light output on the eye can deteriorate up to 70%, whereby the eye also struggles to adjust with light transitions (light to dark). Therefore, we try not to make the transitions of areas in terms of light level too strong and we rather have too much light than not enough. Put on some sunglasses and have a look at the picture again. What will you see then?

How do I find my own room?

This is a frequently asked question in residential care buildings. During our research we discovered that it is obviously for people with dementia, definitely not in a strange environment, that they are able to find their areas. So also their own living/bedroom. People come to live here from their familiar environment and have little to no capacity left to remember things. This also applies for their own room, which number it could have and what the colour could be of the door. They easily walk into another room, looking for familiar and recognisable elements. This latter is actually one of the few aspects that can offer support. Recognition, that ensures for orientation. So, this was immediately the principle to look for something that can contribute to finding the own room.

Experience & incitements

Apart from finding the own room we also came across an aspect that frequently appeared in our research; the experience (or absence thereof) in the corridors and offering (diverse) incitements. This science, in combination with the trigger to be able to orientate and at least find your own room, made us design the corridors as part of living. Corridors were no longer ‘left over’ space but an integral part of living.

From this perspective we came up with the idea to work with places for own items near the entrance of the room and showcases were created. Areas where you can place your own items that ensure for recognition of your own room. Plus, this ensures that there is something to do in the corridor, that incitements are offered, that make you want to walk from the one to another cabinet to have a look.

Contrast

At the moment that we started with the assignment, the bathrooms would be titled completely white. For people with dementia is can then be difficult to orientate themselves. Due to the lack of contrast and the back exit of the eye function (deterioration of the light output on the eye and yellowing), as white toilet bowl against a white wall is difficult to observe, for example. This can contribute to the loss of autonomy and self-reliance and even to the insecurity of the residents. To indeed support residents with this and to unburden the care (because people can remain more undependable) we have intensively reviewed the possibilities with the contractor to add a second colour tiling. So, coloured tile surfaces were created behind functions like the wash basin, toilet and shower. In consultation with the ergo therapist we also reviewed in this way the extent of anti-slip of the floor, positioning of auxiliary tools and the general lay-out of the bathroom.

The bathroom is of course not the only room where we strongly used contrast. Also the contrasting, coloured walls in the living room help in the orientation and interrupt the rhythm of the corridor. Just as the diversity in the upholstery of the chairs, the contrast in the colours of the kitchen doors and last but not least the accent colours of the showcases.

Exercise as guideline.

From our research it emerged that exercise has a positive effect on the cognitive functions of our brains. And tentative initial studies showed that it possible also effects the demented brain. And although tentative studies, we took on as principle that any exercise (or often absence thereof) (especially at a higher age) could be at least a good principle. Not least to keep the muscles and joints incited and to stay (slightly) active. From that perspective we strongly considered how we can safely challenge and stimulate residents to stay active and to exercise. But also how we can indeed support (and sometimes interrupt) more active residents (wanderers) in their exercise.

In combination with our ambition for domesticity we decided to design the panelling in the corridor. The panelling is a (for many residents) recognisable element and contributes to a homely feeling. Due to the design we were able to place this at a distance of the wall and include a grip where residents could hold on to. No institutional rail, but indeed support. Below we were able to implement a LED lighting line for the night situation. Where we previously wrote about the occurrence of strong contrasts, this also applied here; if you wake up during the night and you have lost the moment of the day, you do not want to enter the corridor in full light. Therefore, a soft support during the night that directs you back to your apartment, or indeed towards the care. But never towards the front door.

 Studio id+ provides creative input!

Fred Busschers – regional manager Quarijn

Carpet in the care sector?

From a facility point of view we mainly know hard floors in the care sector. From the perspective of residents carpet is however not such a bad option. It is a recognisable material and also a lot more pleasant in case of a fall incident. From these views, but also as guidance in the corridors, we have used strips of carpet. Hereby we have chosen a type of carpet that hardly absorbs any dirt and is easy to maintain. This strip continues at doors that are not accessible for the residents and is interrupted with own apartments. Due to the posture and walk of many residents this contributes to the fact that there is no notice of entering inaccessible doors.

Integral

The Koekoek is characterised by the integral interior assignment. From installation to upholstery we have assisted and designed all choices. From the coordination on the construction to the assistance of the project interior designer; everything from the concept of designing for this target group. Thereby we checked out and coloured every fabric, we have seen and tested every chair and each part has its own place within the vision. That is why there are six different chairs around the dining table; so there is choice and diversity (nobody is the same) but the unity is found in the upholstery and the wood of the chair.

Award

Apart from the fact that in 2015 the Koekoek was already included by the knowledge centre living-care of Aedes Actiz in a series about innovative, novel care projects, the project was often published and applied as reference and inspiration, it received extra recognition in the beginning of 2016. The project won the prestigious NVTG bouwaward in the category long stay care!

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