Sheltered housing and day care centre, Kortrijk,
Belgium, 2017

Sheltered housing and a daycare centre for young dementia sufferers forms part of a network of care facilities set within a park, including a community centre housed in an art-deco villa.

The new residential building mediates between the existing buildings providing an intermediary scale and a new urban edge to the east of the site. Proximity to tall trees inspired the facade, which adopts a strong vertical emphasis with a rhythm of stacked window assemblies and tall, solid pilasters clad in glazed ceramic extrusions. This creates a visual and material connection with the ceramic detailing of the villa, while providing a robust, maintenance-free building surface.

Together with a creative response to current research on early onset dementia, some of the spatial ideas found in the layout of the existing villa. The villa is organised as a series of parallel, interconnected spaces of equal size, each with a unique character. The wooden panelling, floors and decorations have the familiarity and comfort of old things and evoke the feel of the comfortable bourgeois home it once was.

To contrast the challenges facing those with dementia – disorientation in time, space and identity caused by memory loss – existing relationships with objects, routines and spaces are reinforced. Creating ‘little worlds’ organised in a personal way makes it easier to establish order within a sheltered, personal space. This influenced the layout of rooms: only a few doors are seen from one perspective, privacy is emphasised by recessed entry niches, through decoration, material finishes and layouts.

In collaboration with Studio Jan Vermeulen and Tom Thys architecten.

Competition: 2013, first prize
Contract value: EUR 6.9 million
Gross internal area: 4.250 m2