Mick Jagger (75), Tina Turner (79) and the famous Dutch singer Boudewijn de Groot (74), hippies pur sang. Officially retired but unofficially still going strong. The hippie generation is now elderly, but cannot be pigeonholed. Nor the generation that followed. For example, 64-year-old Johnny Kraaijkamp jr. participaties in Expedition Robinson. Elderly used to be ‘people born before the war’. That has changed. We have to start to think differently about homes for the elderly and care institutions.
That is why we were especially pleased with the assignment we received from the Amsterdam care institution Cordaan to develop a new kind of housing for needy elderly. Finally, we were able to realize our ambition: a new approach to building for elderly, people with dementia and physical problems. Cordaan wants people to improve their living environment in the last years of their lives. They should receive tailored care, live in an accommodation that adapts to their needs instead of the other way around, and that they have a pleasant life. Tribute to Cordaan with this new vision.
Until now, elderly people who are no longer able to live (completely) independently had to be happy that they were given a tiny room with a toilet. So small that there is hardly room for the favorite chair, let alone for the grandchildren. A specter for everyone who is facing retirement. Fortunately, Cordaan sees it differently and so do we. We already had a lot of experience in building for the elderly, but there is hardly any healthcare institution for people with dementia. Zuidoever proves that it is possible to offer this group of people a pleasant living environment, where they feel at home in the various phases of their illness and can be happy. That starts with the choice of location. Real city people should not be moved to an outlying area, even when they get old. That is why Zuidoever will be located in Amsterdam Zuidas; a busy place where living, working and recreation come together intensively. The city with its bustle and many facilities is still the basis for the living environment in the first phase of the disease.
Zuidoever is designed in such a way that the building ‘adapts’ to the people. It can narrow to what they still can and need. If it is no longer possible to go outside independently, then there are, for example, the gardens that are accessible at every level of the building. When designing, we thought in ‘living rings’ so that people with different operating ranges can come into contact with each other in a natural way. No closed doors, but gradual transitions and logical circuits throughout the building, which in combination lead to larger circuits. You can meet anywhere. This yields a lot of profit, because people can help, strengthen and complement each other. Research has shown that elderly people in need of care then feel happier and need less care.
Cordaan expects to set a new standard with Zuidoever, a blueprint for future care projects. And that is necessary if we want to offer the growing group of people with dementia and somatic problems housing that suits them and where they feel happy.
Charlotte ten Dijke