Reinvigorating Life: An Architecture for Younger Onset Dementia
Most people are familiar with dementia, but few realise that it is not just an old persons’ disease. Younger onset dementia (YOD) is defined as the onset of dementia before age 65, some afflicted are as young as 30. People with YOD often have children at home, were recently employed, are physically fit and have active social lives. There are currently no facilities in New Zealand for people with YOD, resulting in their institutionalisation in aged-care facilities withdrawn from the local community and environment. The loss of physical and social stimulation often results in confusion, high anxiety and a faster progression of symptoms. Seeking to develop a specialised YOD facility, this thesis examines; existing literature across multiple disciplines, examples of successful YOD facilities internationally, and proposes both a participatory and iterative design method to establish how architecture can reinvigorate the lives of those affected by YOD and instigate a more socially responsive approach to design. This extends to the wider group of ‘lives’ including the care workers, the community and ultimately NZ. The need to provide architecture for memory, autonomy, and therapy was developed from the literature establishing key objectives for the design. In response to the lack of community interaction which occurs with existing dementia facilities, the thesis explores the possibilities inherent in Tschumi’s method of disprogramming. A garden centre is introduced to both contribute to and benefit from the YOD facility. The merging of YOD facility and garden centre into an infinity loop offers continual interaction, establishes a stimulating environment, and reaffirms those affected by YOD as relevant and active members of the community. The thesis engages with the discourse on projective practice to regain memory, autonomy, and activity for those affected by YOD, providing a reinvigorating architecture while simultaneously promoting a more socially responsive approach to design.