A safe, familiar home for the elderly, with autonomy and personal direction as key words—that was Pleyade’s assignment in a nutshell. Throughout every phase in the design, with every step we took together with the care provider, we asked ourselves a simple question: Do you have this at home too? As a result, we were able to create a residential complex that is not a typical care home but a dignified, warm environment for elderly people in need of care.
Pleyade Elst can be described as a familiar environment with 36 independent “cottages”, where care personnel are present 24 hours a day. All residents have their own front door, which opens to their personal living quarters with a private garden or balcony. Nothing about the environment feels “medical”; nowhere does it feel like a traditional care home. You won’t encounter any shower chairs, stretchers, lifts or wheelchairs in the rooms or corridors—unless, of course, they are being used. And the care staff don’t work in a separate office or workplace; they make use of the communal living rooms.
Meeting is the key word at Pleyade. Residents who leave their home almost automatically end up in an inviting lounge or living room. These spaces are connected to the wide corridor by the floors and ceilings, which protrude into it. There are no PVC floors, rather oak is used in the living rooms and lounge areas, and ceramic tiles are used the corridors. For practical reasons, there is a suspended ceiling, but one with virtually invisible seams.
Around the main entrance, everything is light and transparent. Even the glass stairwell is transparent. From the large living room downstairs, everyone has a view of the entrance and vice versa. This immediately gives the feeling of contact and proximity. The living room has a kitchen island in the middle, something you rarely see in this kind of care environment and which the staff is also very happy with. They can sit at it with their laptop while one of the residents chops onions for dinner. Cosiness, interaction and a warm atmosphere are characteristic of Pleyade.
Without needing any extra budget, we were able to make the residences look different from the outside, creating a sense of autonomy and individuality. This was achieved in abstract and subtle ways, for example, with depth differences in the brickwork and the façade itself, varying window distributions, and nuances in colour in the façade.