22 October 2006


We are told that Alzheimer illness causes progressive loss of all mental powers - the power to think, to remember and to reason (www.alzscot.org). But, what about the ability to feel and sense, how can the patient express himself or communicate if he cannot “go from his mind to his fingers anymore”? Could music or the arts help to act as a release for trapped emotions?
If the patient “feels at home” one could assume his security, self-respect and self-image would be reinforced - something similar happens to any guest that comes to one’s house for a visit. Knowing the patients’ life-story forms part of that initiative. By talking about the past and finding what is important, s/he is helped to FIND THE WAY HOME. Thus is would be significant to create an environment emphasising UNDERSTANDING rather than CHANGE.
If thought in its essence, the home is the site where humanity and identity of the individual are fostered. The home is a place where the architectural language and the culture of the individual are juxtaposed in order to intensify the 'human' aspect of the home and to recognise each element within the consciousness and conscientiousness of the individual.
The house is thus not only a shelter but a cultural identity that is to be defined according to the inhabitant. It is the mirror of man's sentiments and a way of life. Limits, or boundaries, are not to be understood as that at which something stops. They are equally that at which something begins. As in the world of art, the house is not a collection of objects without a context.
It is a matter of 'feeling' the environment, its culture and peculiarity that becomes reinterpreted and visualised within the boundaries of the home. The 'home' is from where man originated and his history becomes felt when 'breathing' the house. “To breath” the house of Alzheimer patients could be way to understand their environment, and lead them BACK HOME.


Anonymous said...

No, it's not. When you have Alzheimer's, you are afraid all the time because nothing makes sense. My grandmother stayed at home for some time with Alzheimer's and we kept saying, "Nanny's just getting a bit forgetful. She'll be OK." But she wasn't. We tried to keep her at home for as long as we could, because we thought she would be better there. She wasn't. She she would do things like locking herself in her bedroom because she was afraid of burglars and then hide the key and forget where she had hidden it. She'd wander off in the middle of the night looking for "the baby" because it wasn't in the house, when there hadn't been a baby in the house in nearly 50 years. She would cry for her mother,when her mother had been dead since 1966. It doesn't seem to matter where an Alzheimer's patient is, he or she is just upset and afraid. They forget their families and it's very upsetting for everyone involved. They lose things and think the people closest to them have stolen them. Until someone finds a cure, I just don't know what to do, but leaving people at home certainly doesn't seem to help. Sorry to rain on your parade, but that's just how it is.

Anonymous said...

Dear RedCap,

You are not raining on our work, on the contrary; we appreciate very much your sincere comment.

When we were commissioned to design the new Alzheimer Centre in Murcia (Spain), it was clear for us that our architecture would not be the medicine. Nevertheless, we cannot allow ourselves to stop thinking in trying to achieve an environment that could encourage or support the patients' therapy.

There is not much information related to this kind of centres here in Spain because of its novelty, and I am desperately looking for books and similar buildings. Our first step has been to create a weblog of the project and here you have its address in English language:


Our idea is to continue working with the brief of the project (Learning Centre, Day Centre, Dementia Unit, Laboratories and Bank of Brains, Administration, Main Room Theatre, Cafeteria and Restaurant), and to use the qualities of site to organize it.

It would be great if you visit our weblog in English language and, please, feel free to continue participating. Your experience is very important for us.

Yours sincerely, javier sánchez merina