This Entire Town Was Built for Dementia Patients

In the Netherlands, that bastion of relatively affordable, comprehensive healthcare, patients with dementia aren’t just relegated to a nursing home or a hospital. Some live in an entire town devoted to assisting aging people with extreme dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Hogeweyk, a model town outside Amsterdam run by a government-funded nursing care company, bills itself as a dementia village, and houses more than 150 people. Completed in 2009, the tiny town stretches across almost 3 acres, with 23 homes where residents can live together in groups. In addition to housing, it has most of the trappings of a normal town, including a supermarket, a cafe, a hardware store, a hair salon, a restaurant, and a theater. And because it’s a care facility, it also has a physical therapy facility and an outpatient care unit.

There are caregivers to take residents to the grocery store and help out with housework, and cooks and store employees are trained to deal with people who have severe dementia. Residents are free to stroll around town or sit around in the cafe, and nearby townspeople often pop in for a concert or street fair, adding to the facility’s sense of normalcy.

Studies find that social isolation, lack of activity, and increased depression are major issues for people dealing with dementia. Being able to perform normal, everyday activities improves the quality of life for these patients, and it helps them maintain a sense of dignity and comfort. Compared to traditional institutions, Hogeweyk gives dementia patients the chance to maintain a semblance of their independence, allowing them to come and go and socialize as they please, with enough experienced caretakers around them to ensure their safety.

It's not the only city in the region with a unique approach to caring for those with mental illness: In Geel, Belgium, residents have taken mentally ill and disabled patients into their homes as boarders for more than 700 years. Hogeweyk, for its part, has received international acclaim from health researchers and designers since its inception, and has even inspired a similar facility in Ontario, Canada.

[h/t: Twisted Sifter]

India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Norway Opens Another Spectacular Roadside Bathroom
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Silja Lena Løken / Statens vegvesen

Norway’s National Tourist Routes will change how you think about rest stops. As part of a decades-long program, the Norwegian government has been hiring architects and designers to create beautiful roadside lookouts, bathrooms, and other amenities for travelers along 18 scenic highways throughout the country. One of the latest of the projects unveiled, spotted by Dezeen, is a glitzy restroom located on the Arctic island of Andøya in northern Norway.

The facility, designed by the Oslo-based Morfeus Arkitekter, is located near a rock formation called Bukkekjerka, once used as a sacrificial site by the indigenous Sami people. The angular concrete and steel structure is designed to fit in with the jagged mountains that surround it.

The mirrored exterior wall of the bathroom serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, it reflects the scenery around the building, helping it blend into the landscape. But it also has a hidden feature. It’s a one-way mirror, allowing those inside the restroom to have a private view out over the ocean or back into the mountains while they pee.

The newly landscaped rest area near the bathroom will serve as an event space in the future. The Bukkekjerka site is already home to an annual open-air church service, and with the new construction, the space will also be used for weddings and other events. Because this is the Arctic Circle, though, the restroom is only open in the late spring and summer, closing from October to May. Check it out in the photos below.

A bathroom nestled in a hilly landscape
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

The mirrored facade of a rest stop reflects concrete steps leading down a pathway.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A person stands outside the bathroom's reflective wall.
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Hugo Fagermo / Statens vegvesen

A wide view of a rest stop at the base of a coastal mountain
Morfeus Arkitekter. Photo: Trine Kanter Zerwekh / Statens vegvesen

[h/t Dezeen]


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