Architectural and urban design studio in corporation with Dementia Australia

I am fascinated with all the elements found in the existence of the public realm as well as stories being created. I have been exploring and utilizing various approaches and materials in expressing the ideas and subjects in relation to nostalgic elements of history, nature, memory, identity in environmental and social contexts. The public spaces and social interactions meet the practical and emotional needs of daily events. It provides me the backdrops for the creations. In the year 2016, a design and research studio in collaboration with Alzheimer Australia has provided me the platform to delve into the subject of art, architecture and urban in the eye of the dementia patients and their families.

Home / School represents a project that explores the idea of manipulating the comfort of memory; and how it may be able to provide better education and care for children, elderly people, those suffering from dementia, and its broader community.

The aim is to breed a new generation of children that could understand and be aware of elderly people who suffer from dementia, and at the same time, have the children provide joy to elderly people and have a positive impact on dementia patients.

There are numerous researches providing the bases on guiding the safe approaches in design. 

But in my creative research, I started my approach with understanding the messy world via various scales.

From here, I set the 3 scales – daily interventions, architectural design and urban planning- in this creative journey.

photo montages created to express the idea of various scales and the complex daily world

At the same time,  I sketched several ideas to visualize the transforming quality and possibilities in spaces. I hope to capture the atmosphere for people to realize and understand the complexity in a simple defined and conceptualized space – just as what a dementia patient could possibly experience in the ‘ordinary’ daily situation. By creating some basic but transformable space, it is a visual representation of the complicated iteration between people and the surroundings and to provide a concept of elementary field with multiple functions.

The testing site area is locating in North Melbourne which is boundary by the train tracks, river and with a good mix of green filed, residential and industry remains.

In the urban scale,  we are standing at the moment of now and trying to rethink if there are ways to improve the urban fabric to better the living conditions for the growing population of dementia patients. The goal, hence, therefore is to create a dementia friendly approach. At the same time, Fook’s theory in of designing a functioning neighborhood sets out the basics in layout the activities.  Easy visual recognition icons, safe visual ‘barriers’ , smooth access and sense of place are keys in design so then providing the freedom for residents wander around the area freely. It is not just an urban design conversation for Alzheimer patients, but it is also a design for everyone in future.

Looking into a smaller scale, I decided to explore the design of a school- a school that combines childcare, primary school, nursing center and dementia center.

School in general concept is to learn and understand. where the patients of dementia are going through the opposite direction in acquiring new knowledge and recognition.

Similar behaviors in these age groups and overlapping of programs that the users need can be easily spotted.

But, what is a shared memory among everyone? 

The concept and image of a home is shared – the image of a pitched roof.

The project aims to provide a comfortable environment for elderly and people suffering from dementia. That is why using recognizable forms of a home – the pitch roof – to emphasize the idea of home and comfort.

The idea is to not separate the different user groups but to encourage them to interact through the building form and plan arrangement. At the same time, there are considerations of special needs, such as the private rest area for elderly people, and shared spaces among various age groups.

Green space works to help people finding their ways as a navigation tool as well as to provide open spaces to “escape” confined spaces.

Stand in the moment of “Now, and looking towards the future”

Proposed ‘Home School’ Perspective

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