Space, Place and Flourishing

I have been wondering what to write as my 700th blog post on Clyde Street.
A link shared by my wife, Sue, provided the answer.
Jon Henley wrote in theguardian this week about a residential community near Amsterdam.
His article contains within it some of the issues that have become important for me in my growing interest in space, place and learning.
Jon reported on developments at Hogewey, “an innovative, humane and apparently affordable way of caring for people with dementia”.
Hogewey is a “smart, low, brick-built complex, completed in early 2010. A compact, self-contained model village on a four-acre site on the outskirts of town, half of it is open space: wide boulevards, cosy side-streets, squares, sheltered courtyards, well-tended gardens with ponds, reeds and a profusion of wild flowers. The rest is neat, two-storey, brick-built houses, as well as a cafe, restaurant, theatre, minimarket and hairdressing salon”.
There are 152 residents who have been classified as suffering from severe or extreme dementia. The residents average 83 years of age. Jon notes that “They live, six or seven to a house, plus one or two carers, in 23 different homes. Residents have their own spacious bedroom, but share the kitchen, lounge and dining room.”
Hogewey aims to “relieve the anxiety, confusion and often considerable anger that people with dementia can feel by providing an environment that is safe, familiar and human; an almost-normal home where people are surrounded by things they recognise and by other people with backgrounds, interests and values similar to their own”; and to maximise the quality of people’s lives by “Keeping everyone active. Focusing on everything they can still do, rather than everything they can’t. Because when you have dementia, you’re ill, but there may really not be much else wrong with you.”
There are 25 clubs, residents are encouraged to keep up with day-to-day tasks they have always done.
Hogeway has homes designed from seven “lifestyle categories” with moods evoked through choice of furnishing, decoration, music, and food. It is connected to its local community.
What I liked about Jon’s account of Hogeway was exactly what attracted me to Kevin McLeod’s ideas for The Triangle. I have learned it is possible to plan for and support personal difference through a commitment to the quality of life in a designed context. This has encouraged me to think about spaces and places for learning.
I felt very reassured by Hogeway and encouraged to think about dignity and care.
Photo Credit
Oma Zylstra, biking along the canal


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