THE FIRST ALZHEIMER’S VILLAGE IN FRANCE
The number of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease are steadily increasing in Europe. Both among the aging part of the population with longer life expectancies, but also for people under 65. A negative development that calls for new approaches to the built environment. Today, nursing homes find it difficult to meet patients gradually changed and with very individual needs. The new Alzheimer’s village in Dax, is the first of its kind in France, designed by NORD Architects in collaboration with the local architects Champagnat & Gregoire Architectes.
NORD Architects has over the past 10 years developed buildings that meet current and changing conditions in the healthcare sector with focus on the healing effect that architecture can have on people with dementia and other diseases.
Inclusion in local society and co-existence
According to partner at NORD Architects Morten Gregersen the design is about creating a homely atmosphere that will support the experience of continuation in an everyday life. It is important for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia that the surroundings are recognizable and doesn’t disturb their cognitive abilities. That’s also why we design with an explicit local character and elements of the regional building style, so there is a cultural continuation that can ease the transition from living at home to live in an Alzheimer’s village with a serious mental disease.
NORD Architects recently designed other projects involving caretaking of people with dementia and which feature co-existence elements that introduces new ways of living together in inclusive and active communities – with and without diseases.
In buildings such as the Center for Cancer and Health in Copenhagen and New Urban Hospice in Frederiksberg, the studio has previously developed new types of facilities for the healthcare sector, where the understanding of patients' needs for privacy and respect for personal dignity is the primary focus. "We have shown that solutions can be tailored through the involvement of users and developers in the creative design processes, without it costing the building or society extra - in either the short or long term. It's basically rooted in a deep curiosity about the understanding of both individual user patterns and general societal challenges. And we believe that the experience of the development of major welfare buildings in Denmark and Scandinavia is general knowledge that with benefit can and should be exported. "
Continuation of everyday life and activities
In the "Alzheimer village" all is arranged to accommodate a gradual inclusion of people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease and their relatives in a center that contains familiar elements from the residents' previous lives, such as a local shop, hairdresser, restaurants, cultural center and a healthcare center positioned as small houses in a beautiful landscape – all designed with inspiration from local building tradition, which gives residents a sense of being able to maintain a relatively normal and recognizable everyday life in an otherwise confusing new reality.