OST / Nursing Home 3 Platanen

The Project of elderly home of Sint Monica in Oostende is a project of local interest with the ambition to make this important building typology evolve. The ambition of innovation is as relevant as elderly homes is a growing typology in our ever older Western society. As we get older, healthier and wealthier, it becomes important to rethink the status quo of what those buildings offer, both to their inhabitants but also to their surroundings.

New DNA: Improving the Ward’s efficiency and habitability
We have on one hand focused on the pure efficiency of the building’s logistics and rationality by learning from the most efficient standard plan (Diep Kruis, see reference) and by improving it. Those improvements are guided by the Diep Kruis equation, so basically by math, but its aim is to improve the living qualities of the inhabitants. By taking the 8 as the shape of the ward we allow continuous movements within the building rather than dreadful back and forth, without increasing distances, and furthermore allowing natural light and views to a green patio to guide the users in their daily routines. Not only is the result of the new shape more efficient (our 32 rooms ward scores 24,28m on ‘average distance to room’ equation versus 25,30m for the Diep Kruis) but it also complies to the practical requirements for the work of the nurses and helpers, allowing for continuous view from a central point to all doors of the ward. We have allowed to distribute the common and hang out spaces within the general galleries since they offer an indoor promenade in the sunlight next to trees instead of an artificially lit double loaded corridor. The architecture invites to occupy places more freely and allows the residents to pull up a chair and table in front of their room facing the patio. Spaces are combined and become appropriated rather than divided and sterile.

Paradoxical potential
The context surrounding our site is an interesting breed of urban and nature-like hybrid. The masterplan around our project aims at intelligently connecting the back land with its nature and leisure programs to the rest of the city, hence the need for our site to remain inviting and crossable.

While creating the DNA of the project, the Ward, we studied its positioning on site and found out a series of contradicting conditions: To start with, the project is very big for a not so big site. Secondly the site needs to be permeable to its surroundings, allowing for public passage.

Our immediate reaction to this paradox made us decide to simply stack the 3 wards on top of a very public groundfloor located to the open fields on the South East. We then found out that by simply sliding the 2 top floors towards the street the North West we would create a nice entrance canopy, lliberate a huge roof garden to the South East and lighten the building s presence at the back while enforcing it on the city side, and we would get all that without adding anything on the land therefore maintaining permeability.

Our building shape is curvilinear making flows around it, natural and effortless.

Contextual Logistics
The section of the building from the city towards the South offers 2 main conditions: On the city side we let the volumes of 2 wards float above the entrance in order to maintain an urban front of 4 stories height. By lifting the volume up and leaving a generous covered square space as entrance we break the walled-in feeling from the street and create a welcoming (and dry) arrival. There you can find the drop off zone as well as the staff parking, naturally protected from the rain.

The lifted volume is resting on its similar counterpart to the South east, leaving the natural relation to the back more smooth and peaceful. It allows for a large common garden on the roof of the lower volume, where the 3 wards can gather. That roof is partially planted of flowers and small vegetation and offers the possibility of little ‘tuinen’ for the residents. Facing South east, away from the look of the passers by, that green Oase will make for peaceful Spring and Summer afternoons.