Something There Is, That Doesn't Love a Wall - Spatializing Thresholds to Activate Integration
by Alex TAN Soon Li
'Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I would like to give offense'
In an attempt to meet the needs of the aging population, plans that allow aging patients to manage their illness in the community were announced. These strategies, which includes an increase in the number of community care institutions, led to a subsequent stigmatization and gentrification of geriatric care. Additionally, this model of care does not maximizes efficiency as patients still relocate to facilities among different communities.
The thesis projects a new typology of community care that speculates a symbiotic relationship between geriatrics and the residents. In doing so, it aims to de-stigmatize the geriatric institution, and allows a point of entry into community living where the aged can heal in the community, with the community.
'Good fences make good neighbors'
Existing as a counter point to the current model of community care, the thesis consolidates the main geriatric provisions under one facility, proposing a new model of care that centres around everyday community provisions that is the neighbourhood market. Reacting to two different spatial systems coming together on site, two articulated volumes collides and locks together, producing a sequence of threshold spaces which overflows and overlooks different spaces.
Programmatically, these thresholds integrate the different functioning areas of the complex, while simultaneously differentiating it. In times of differentiation, an energized complex that corresponds readily to the diversity of activity is created. In integration, a synergized effect is produced, where interaction occurs under 3 scenarios – juxtaposition, commonalities and appropriation.
Spatially, the proximity between the everyday life with aged living is maintained. The adjacencies of aging and death as an integral part of the life cycle is celebrated through the engagement of common activities albeit for different purposes - as spaces for creative learning and physiotherapy, as gardens that heals and yields, or as spaces that serves and in turn be served.
'Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast
There where it is we do not need the wall'
- Robert Frost, Mending Wall, 1914
The architecture habituates itself as a part of the everyday, stringing together the dialectics of the institution and the communal, of aging and living. It is fluid and instantaneous, where through need, time and circumstance, residents and patients are pooled into a commonplace. The transitory space demarcates but yet blurs the boundary between geriatric care and community life, blending them into an amorphous and versatile space where the elderly and residents looks towards one another to age gracefully as a life cycle.