/ Four Gardens for Greville Dementia Care Home

In 2016, on behalf of Bristol City Council, Willis Newson Art Agency in Bristol (UK) commissioned me to collaborate with architects Penoyre & Prasad and Steve Frazer of Landscape Architects Enzygo, on the development of a landscape design for a new 69 bed dementia care home, produced by Ashley House and Brunelcare.

As my point of departure, I proposed a small shift in the optics of what a dementia care-home garden might be. I chose to understand it both as a private sheltered outdoor residence, and as an addition or missing piece in the local fabric. In Greville there are but few parks and gardens for locals to assemble in. The new dementia garden could therefore act as one and if so, could offer to dementia residents a living surface of contact to the wider world. The  garden we proposed, thus was shaped as two different zones  – one closed residential garden zone, and one semi-open communal garden.

In collaboration with landscape architect Steve Frazer from Enzygo Ldt in Sheffield, I also performed a series of dialogues with different agents involved in, affected by and neighbours to the given site – staff, neighbours, relatives. Their different knowledge and ”lived experience” were intertwined via a process of co-production of an architectural model. This model was presented to the architects and the commissioners, by the end of 2017.

These cross consultation dialogues differed from normal procedures in play when planning dementia care homes. Normally consultations are conducted in separated tracks and with no aim to stage a collaboration across the professional divides.

The indicative drawings, subsequently produced on  basis of these consultative dialogues, were presented to the commissioner as an actual landscape program. But they also stand as a prototype of a planning based on an otherwise non-existing consultation process.

A NOW TIME ZONE_shelters in place

A key element in the published proposal is a focal shelter, proposed and adapted specifically for social activities for residents with dementia. Above, you see this shelters placed in circular garden areas on the drawings generated by the dialogues.

BRISTOL model shelter

The shelters offer a goal for a resident walking in the garden, or a place for the resident who wishes to have something to do. The small architecture also serves a strategic role as a tool,  mechanically opening a closer link between the outside of the institution, and the inside. Between the sheltered parts of the garden and new platforms for co-production and co-habitation between the residents and their relatives, their neighbours and local cultural association.

The Danish architect M C Trabut – Jørgensen has elaborated the model you see above.

Here you find the proposal for a new dementia garden elaborated by myself and Steve Frazer in 2017 – Lacey RD garden layout. 

This material was published, both as a separate folder entitled A NOW-TIME ZONE/ Four gardens for Greville Dementia Care Home and within the formal building applications from Ashley House and as an architectural model.

However, in 2018, the entire building project was stalled by the Ashley House, and thus also the garden project. But myself and Steve Frazer have keep open a critical discursive dialogue with agents normally engaged in relation to dementia care homes. In summer 2018, we were invited by Dr Christina Buse from the Dep. of Sociology at the University of York to perform a workshop during a public conference entitled “Architectural design and construction for later life care: challenges and opportunities for designing with and for building users” at Kings Manor, University of York, UK, arranged by the Department of Sociology of Wentworth College.

We presented the project with a focus on ways of identifying, supporting and cultivating the concept of local agency and co-ownership, as the basis for a dementia garden layout. The model was displayed, as well as the very rough video sequence mentioned above, to introduce the basic working mode. The Dep. of Sociology published ‘Buildings in the Making’, a research study following the design and construction process on building projects for older people, in particular extra care housing and care homes by doctors Christina Buse, Daryl Martin and Sarah Nettleton from the Department of Sociology of Wentworth College, University of York UK, which includes the art project.

The 18th of September 2018, the project and video was also presented by Steve Frazer and myself within the Fine Art Lecture Series at Academy Valand, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

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