Places designed for the elderly tend be stigmatising, which is predicated in
its medical engineering background. The institutional nature of these places
accelerates decline as it negatively impacts on the health of its residents,
physically and psychologically disabling them.
Spaces that support the wellbeing of residents can be identified by the
presence of three characteristics: a sense of control over ones environment,
a sense of access to social support and access to positive distraction.
Huis Davidtsz is a frail care facility, located just west of Pretoria’s central
business district, which has housed elderly people since 1968. The interior
environment of Huis Davidtsz is dull and disabling and for this reason is
selected as site for design intervention. In order to re-design Huis
Davidtsz into a psychologically supportive environment the aforementioned
characteristics of supportive space are translated into architectural design.
Four elements of architectural space: floor, wall, ceiling and window, are
manipulated to create an intimacy gradient.
This gradient humanises the institution by establishing a range of spaces and
a sense of territoriality. The unforgiving threshold between intimate and
public space is moderated by subtle spatial indications of levels of intimacy.
This provides Huis Davidtsz with the seven levels of intimacy associated
with domestic spaces, enabling individuality and choice. The result is a
comfortable and secure place for living.
Dissertation MInt(Prof)--University of Pretoria, 2014