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Sergison Bates wins Belgian care home contest

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Sergison Bates Architects has won an open competition, run by the Flemish authorities, to design a €18 million care home in Kruishoutem, Belgium

The 11,500 m², three-storey scheme will house 30 assisted living apartments for couples, 60 residential rooms, a dementia department, nine short-stay rooms for respite care and a crèche.

Backed by Vijvens VZW, the project is set to complete in 2014.

The architect’s view

The town of Kruishoutem has a distinct agricultural character and has evolved from the original historical market centre to include commercial and industrial activity with the rise of a large suburban economy. Marolle, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kruishoutem, owes its existence to the establishment of a monastery by the Passionist Fathers, around which shops and cafes were built and grew into a self-sustaining village community.
The new care home, with its diverse facilities and community service center creates a new focus for the community at the threshold of the town with the surrounding countryside.
The two new buildings frame the church visually and physically, bringing it into the compositon of forms. A new linear public space is created in front of it, with planted trees and the grotto of Saint Maria of Lourdes is located in a new brick structure, which is accessible to the public for pilgrimage and prayer.
The design of internal spaces aims to minimise the ‘institutional’ perception care homes often generate by supporting a degree of individuality and fostering a sense of belonging to small household size clusters whithin the wider residential community.

The objective is to create a comfortable, homely atmosphere

The essential qualities of the residents’ rooms include a view out to landscape or public space and close proximity to a communal space, so that residents are made to feel part of a large family. A sense of feeling at home is promoted by the use of elements which residents may recognise from their own lives in the surrounding towns and villages, such as decorative wallpaper, ceramic tiling, parquet flooring and items of their own furniture that they are allowed to bring from home. Wooden windows and panelling, warm colours and balconies protected from the wind or glare of the sun create a warm, comfortable atmosphere. The rooms are enlivened by large amounts of controlled daylight and fresh air, so that the interiors feel more like a home or a comfortable hotel than like an institution. The ceiling-high windows afford views out to the surrounding grounds even to those who are bed-ridden and provide an attractive place to sit and look at the landscape.
The objective is to create a comfortable, homely atmosphere and a sense of connection with the surrounding environment and community.

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