Nieves Valle & Joao Pereira de Sousa shared with us their proposal for the renovation of a nursing home courtyard, with the implementation of a new accessibility plan in Lisbon, Portugal. Their aim was to bring life back to the courtyard, which was not being used. Therefore, they envisioned the space as a garden, where flowers bloom and fill with colors on both the exterior and interior spaces of the building.
The result is a transformation of the existing levels into a continuous surface, linking the different levels. They picked up from the mobility concept and applied it more widely and efficiently through the use of elements that will strengthen the social ties between the inhabitants of the nursing home. More images and architects’ description after the break.
With the constant increase of the life expectancy in western societies, the elderly constitute an increasing number of people who, by their experience, availability and will, demand that we integrate them as still active members of society. Because often when we reach a certain age we are free from a range of activities that have occupied our time. Therefore, retirement means also a rebirth of a passion for new activities and occupations. Above all, we must think that although elderly, our brains can and should remain young and creative.
Thus, the nursing homes should be designed differently than a collective housing building or a hotel in order to promote well being among its residents. Thus, we believe that in order to promote mobility, we should focus on the forms of socialization between the inhabitants. Eliminating the physical and psychological barriers to the development of social and creative links between disabled and non-disabled people.
Then we plant a fruit tree or take advantage of an existing tree. Around this tree a new staircase is designed which will generate direct access to the upper levels, terraces and the courtyard, turning itself into the main focal point of this space. Finally, through a series of extrusions of the flower petals, we generate benches, tables and gardens, for various activities.
We established two main access routes that run throughout the whole project: one with full accessibility and another with some small restraints. The first route allows the connection of all the main proposed spaces, from the courtyard to the multi-purpose room and the cafeteria, through a system of ramped paths and open areas where we ensure the minimum rotational dimensions for wheelchairs. The second route, of less importance, allows the connection of different levels where ramps would not fit. Thus, taking into account the competition requirements, we propose sets of stairs that will allow access to the existing entrances.
From the main routes, we have designed activities zones that are defined by its furniture. Therefore, we expect that these spaces will be spontaneously adapted by its inhabitants, according to specific activities, such as: the news desk (for reading daily journals), the resting bench, the friendship bench, the games table, the chatting bench, the flower garden, the meeting bench, the multi-purpose room. As a way to of linking the different areas of the project (exterior and interior) we have designed a single type of floor with colored recycled rubber, which allows for greater comfort when walking and prevents any hazards when falling.
Architects: VA.SO – Nieves Valle & Joao Pereira de Sousa Location: Lisbon, Portugal Promoter: Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa Project Type: Competition for the renovation of a nursing home courtyard, with the implementation of a new accessibility plan Project Year: 2010