Case Study: Hogeweyk Dementia Village
De Hogeweyk, a village for people with severe dementia in Weesp, Netherlands, is a pioneering concept that lies on the crossroad of architectural design and care. Due to the poor short-term memory, problems with communication, confusion, hallucinations, and unusual urge to ‘wander’ associated with dementia, patients often spend the last years of their lives in restrictive, unfamiliar surroundings, under the close watch of uniformed staff.
De Hogeweyk, in contrast, was carefully designed with consideration for the neurological and psychological status of patients, as well as their needs as humans. It is a self-contained neighborhood converted from older four-storied ‘block of concrete’ buildings with restrictive garden access. Here, life and well-being are considered just as important as care.
The complex was designed to prevent patients from wandering outside the complex, but has enough space to allow freedom of unaccompanied movement in total safety. Orientation is aided by a clearly identifiable main route with gardens on the sides. The patients needn’t fear getting lost; help, in the form of non-uniformed staff and carers, is always around the corner.
Based on typological research and the staff’s own experience, resident housing is designed to match the seven different lifestyles that people are used to in the Netherlands. For example, the facility’s website explains, “In the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant people enter through the kitchen” but “in the Gooi [posh] area of the Netherlands are more formal in their layout.”
A house is shared by six or seven residents with similar lifestyles and life values. Not only do the patients feel at home, they also have a social life where they interact with other people and can help the care staff with chores.
The houses are located in quarters with landscape and gardens matching the interiors of the houses and the lifestyle. The various outdoor spaces serve a different purpose—a theater square for street theater, a boulevard with stores and outdoor patient facilities, and green areas with colorful and fragrant plants to improve well-being through sensory stimulation.
A sense of security and familiarity, combined with social interaction and “normal” activities like shopping, visiting a hairdresser, going to a restaurant or theater, in peaceful, green surroundings has improved the quality of living for patients. This in turn has resulted in reduced medications and “problem behaviors.”
All images courtesy of Niek Roozen,