After the Koekoek Rietveld was the second project on which we could work during the research ‘room for forgetfulness’ and whereby as could link theory and practice to each other. Rietveld is a residential care building for people with dementia and has in total 19 residential groups for 8 residents. The building of more than 10,000 m2 also has a number of supporting facilities such as a restaurant, reception, care functions (physiotherapy, treatment rooms, etc.) and offices. We have organised the interior for all residential groups, offices and supporting facilities and developed the vision for the restaurant.

The landscape as inspiration

From the concept ‘sharing a home/house’ we have considered how we can provide people a house and a home here. How you can make a strange environment your own was the central assignment with this. We found the first part of the solution in the concept for the interior. Al residents comes from the area near Alphen a/d Rijn and the landscape was actually also the collective memory of the residents. We took this principle as inspiration and created the concept.

In addition, the theme landscape was also a nice connection with the general setup of Rietveld. Due to this setup a lot of space was created in the indoor garden. The landscape in the building and the landscape translated into the interior ensures for unity in the building.

Sensory experience and support

We analyse the different (characterising) landscapes around Alphen and linked these to our senses; sight, hearing, touch and smell. The landscapes were translated into colours, textures, materials, odours, sounds and images. This to support the sensory experience of space.

In general we have a pretty visual attitude, but indeed for people with dementia the other senses become (are) also very important. The quality of the observation of the eye deteriorates and indeed elements like odour and touch become more important. For example, odour is directed connected to the brain. Where other senses still have a filter before the observation enters the brain, odour does not have this. Therefore, it is a very strong observation for recognition and memory. And therefore the touch also becomes more and more important. The diversity in feeling (tactility and materials) then becomes essential. So, we have strongly used implemented that in this design.

Playing with sight

Changing the observation and mainly the sight can also be used as an advantage. Within the homes of Rietveld there were many doors in the corridors. Not just doors from the own apartments. There were also doors of the sanitary facilities, storage areas, bathrooms and interconnecting doors next to the adjacent home. Especially these latter doors, but also those of the storage areas cannot be accessed by residents. But for someone with dementia there is nothing as annoying as doors that are locked, whereby you do not know why these are locked, you want to go thought them, but that is not possible. This can cause agitation, unrest and confusion. What causes extra pressure on the care.

To try to prevent this we have worked with the following strategy:

1)    doors of apartments are given a clear contrasting colour

2)    doors of storage areas and interconnecting doors are given the exact colour of the wall (also the frames)

3)    doors of bathrooms and sanitary facilities remain white

Experience wall

We have already discussed incitement of the senses and deploying the concept of the landscape for this. This is combination with (as was also researched in the Koekoek) orientation in the room and finding an own room made us decide to design an experience wall. A modular system consisting of various elements. With the own rooms there was a small showcase with magnetic board for own items and recognition. Furthermore, we designed modules with materials, textures, colours and pictures/images of the landscapes. Odour and sound would also be included in this. Again there was so much to experience in the corridors and exercise is supported and motivated.

"Your design have always received a positive response."

Willem Verloop – project leader accommodation Activite

Colours and materials

Every landscape is attentively translated into colours and materials. Plus, the contrasts of wall, floors were carefully reviewed but also that of furniture compared to the walls. The kitchens were also included in this design.

Our aim with this was that without direct view of a landscape, a living should be given the experience of the landscape. That is also what we still hear from after care and inquiry. The landscapes make residential groups recognisable and provide them with a unique atmosphere and identity. But also context and room for own interpretation and addition.

Precisely also the target; we create a basis but the residents and the care get the freedom to make a home own and personal. Thereby we motivate to also add incitements when that seems necessary. We take care of a basic level, but there is room for adjustment.

Innovative care

Just as the Koekoek, Rietveld is published frequently. Plus, the project is included by the knowledge centre living-care of Aedes Actiz in a session about 10 newly built projects named ‘care property with a future.’

"...Rietveld shows that it is still possible: building for the care with a view for the future.”

Aedes Actiz Knowledge centre Living-Care & ActiZ
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