Just came back from monthly forum organized by the Uni staffs. Today, the research is about "Designing for Physically and Cognitively Impaired Elderly People". Basically, our head of school mentioned about the home for the elderly which he visited in Northern Europe few months ago. According to him, the old folks home there is well known for the environment and more common compared to the Asian region. He mentioned lots of things - "the scientific experiment done onto the 'residents' (if you want to be negative, you can just address them as a group of old bustards who're literally waiting to die and can't wait to rot any sooner) that manifest that architecture shouldn't just apply a colour because you simply like it. It must comes with lists of reasons, preferably scientific one.
In the one hour session, he talked a lot, and we listened a lot too. However, a sentence which slipped out from his mouth manage to give me a huge slap. It happened when he was comparing a liveable 'home' with another one which merely covers the survival objective.
"I don't want to die there..... ...."
His words reminded me of a advert which I saw on Internet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6L2B_6U37g (watch it if you haven't) He told us that he knows that he's going to say those words if he was sent there. It's just like in the advert, the Ah Mah has to cope with the new life with his son and daughter in law.
So, WHAT CAN THE ARCHITECTs DO?
For me, I don't think that we (imagine you're architect for a while) can do much. Gladly, we can alter the physical form of EVERYTHING but not the mentality of everyone. The most is just trying hard to influence the psychology state of a person the moment he or she comes in contact with the building or place.
During the forum, one of the female staffs objected how our head of school approached the issue pessimistically. She shared some views of hers, including her mother who's suffering with dimentia and currently staying in a 'home'. Then her objection was barely acknowledged. The Head of School stated that he also has a Mum who's also currently in a 'home'. He feels that we should look at the issue with salutogenesis, instead of looking at it with pathogenesis eyes. The discussion didn't manage to go on for long, after the female staff noticed that she's unable to hold her emotions.
Hmm..... I'm not supporting the action of sending our parents to retirement institutions or a 'home' when they're old. Just that, from how the female staff trying to convey the message that her Mum is living pretty well in a 'home', I can sense that, it's not that she didn't realize the dilemma that her mum may face and have no sense of guilt at all. Just that she knows that the reasons that she's giving left her with no choice. ...... (erbs~ I think I tried to read too much into the discussion..... or didn't I?
Oh ya... ... I've a last question. Will human be able to touch the earth when they're spreading their wings high in the sky? When you're soaring high in the sky, it means there might be more things that you need to be cautious of, like the wind directions which might bring you down, drag force that are slowing your horizontal velocity, the angle of your wings which will change the altitude you may reach, hazardous obstacles ahead etc. When you've so much thing in your hands and head, will you still be able to keep an eye on the ground if you can't touch it?
Some yellow flowers bloomed in my backyard during the winter....