Unique care house combines aesthetics and functionality03/06/2013
Unique care house combines aesthetics and functionality
Only recently the final touches were made to Janine Goffings' attractive care house in the town of Hoepertingen in the province of Limburg. With a view to possible future physical limitations, Janine wanted a functional and customizable house that still looked perfectly normal. Mission accomplished, so it seems. Because of the striking Lithium Zero exterior wall cladding, it is nothing short of a model example for an exceedingly modern living environment.
For more than 30 years Janine Goffings has worked as a social worker. At a professional level, she is often faced with people in need of help. This gave her the incentive to build a house in which, despite any future physical and motor disabilities, she would be able to continue to live comfortably for the rest of her life. Janine opted for a newly constructed building project and called upon an architect she was friends with, Jeroen Bellings. “Janine wanted an open-plan house with a garden, so she would have plenty of space to manoeuvre,” Bellings explains. “We had to work with a specific parcel of building land (a remaining plot), but in the end we managed to achieve an open building style on the plot boundary. It has turned into a very attractive house that perfectly suits her (future) needs.”
Especially the open layout and the associated spaciousness are the first thing you notice. The house has only one fixed interior wall and for the rest is has been built with flexible walls. Living space, kitchen and garden connect seamlessly into one space because of the large expanse of glass at the back. There is nothing to suggest that we are in a "care house". Janine explains: “You cannot see that several issues have been addressed in this space, and that is a good thing too. What I definitely did not want, is a house with a hospital look. It is an attractive, cosy house with subtle nuances that are hardly noticeable because of the excellent way they have been integrated. This is how I want to show people that you can keep your house accessible and practical in a very stylish way."
Home to grow old in
During the realization of her care house Janine called upon the Toegankelijkheidsbureau [Accessibility Agency]. This is a not-for-profit association that was founded in 1992 to increase accessibility, reachability and usability in dwellings for the elderly and people with disabilities. “Janine asked us to assist her and her architect with the functional design and layout of the house,” says Lieve Houbrechts, adviser Living and Care at the accessibility agency. The house has been fitted with a range of amenities intended to keep Janine's life comfortable in the future. Some examples:
- The doors have been fitted with a connection for installing automatic door openers in the future
- The bathroom is equipped with a walk-in shower, a sink at seat height and an adapted toilet.
- In the storage room the washing machine and airing cupboard are raised to make them easier to use.
- In the future, the doors and shutters can be remotely opened using home electronics.
These are all issues that may seem like mere details at first sight, but they will/may turn out to be very important for Janine's future quality of life. "Care house" is an unfortunate term, it is more a "home to grow old in": the house adapts itself to the resident, and not the other way around,” explains Houbrechts.
Striking wall cladding
The house has many architectural qualities and gives a lively, dynamic impression. The striking exterior wall cladding emphasizes this. The façade was built with Zero bricks, a traditionally laid brick that nevertheless looks like a jointless brick. From the 18 available shades Janine chose Lithium, a combination of dark, earthy tones. The Zero bricks were processed with a high-quality mortar from the firm Cantillana. A dark version was chosen to avoid disturbing the look of the exterior wall cladding. “I had never used Zero bricks before, but after researching it for a while we got used to the idea and we discovered the huge benefits it offers,” explains contractor Maurice Rubens. “The combination of the traditional laid brick and the bonding effect is truly unique and makes it so much easier to install.”
Photos: Studio Dupont, Borgloon