This is a project by Manuel Ocaña Architecture & Thought Production Office and it is located at Ciutadella, Menorca, Spain. Project's program: Care home. There are fifteen images for Santa Rita Geriatric Center.
Geriatric centres should be optimistic places appealing to live in or to visit. The idea is to create a characteristic atmosphere in a vital space where spare time prevails and where residents spend the last years or months of their lives.
The first condition is to get a building of 6000 m2, plus 6000 m2 of gardens, with the same budget of that one of 3000 m2 required in the bases of the competition back in 2002.
The fact is that it is possible to build a geriatric centre that does not look like a hospital, with neither corridors nor architectural barriers and on a single floor, in which all the rooms have direct access from (and towards) a garden that, as a sort of ‘lobby’, acts also as direct access towards (and from) the collective spaces.
The aim is to ensure total accessibility, physical autonomy, psychical security and respect to individual privacy, facilitating access to visitors.
Between the residential area and the polygonal perimeter emerges an open, interconnected, fluid, flat and unusual space that accommodates at once the different program and circulation uses. Going over the building means traversing a space with neither doors nor corridors, establishing paths that do not necessarily entail a single solution. It is a unique space, where it is possible going from A to B without following necessarily the same route. But, in addition, it is a ‘polyatmospheric’ circulation space: a series of events that can stimulate the senses and ease the disorientation and spatial tedium that one can ‘experience’ in a geriatric centre. The signage of the roof paintings and a colour code applied to programs and enclosures depending on their geographical orientation are the material supplies to this concept of “polyatmosphere”.
The synthetic enclosures are two-layer cellular polycarbonate. The interior skin of the flat outer enclosure is designed in accordance with its geographical orientation. The north facade strengthens the cold light through the use of blue and greenish plastics, whereas the south and west one favours warmer atmospheres using yellow plastics.
The roof – a bare slab of reinforced concrete – displays orientation lines that are the projection of the topographical surface of the quarries upon which the foundations were laid. This allows defining three areas through the use of three ranges of colours that include the outer adapted restrooms, and that are also associated with the tones filtered by the polycarbonate surfaces.
This palette of changing atmospheres, of different densities and intensities of light, allow the user to decide “which way to go” and “where to stay”.
But the most remarkable fact is that the atmosphere of the users gets improved from a centrifuge sense of architecture. That means an architecture where the user is an actor and not a mere spectator. An architecture generated from the interior avoiding intentionally its representation in the façades (that in this case are not more than mere enclosures), or in a supposedly more decent, trendy or conventional architectural finishings.