Abstract

Understanding future users is recognised to be essential in design, yet also challenging. Often architects have no direct access to the experiences of others, like people with dementia. Case studies have been suggested as an adequate format to inform designers. This paper investigates the role of an ethnographic case study about a person living with dementia, as provided to an architectural firm designing a residential care facility. Interviews with the architects and an analysis of design materials reveal how they incorporated the case study in their ongoing design. Results indicate that the case study offered insight into users’ daily life and facilitated architects’ concept development. Architects’ resulting concept proved valuable to frame design decisions, while its visualisation played a significant role in internal and external communication. The study contributes to untangling important aspects in informing architects about future users and raises questions regarding researchers’ and designers’ roles in transferring knowledge.

Keywords:

architectural design; dementia; ethnographic case study; knowledge

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 17th, 12:00 AM

Designing “little worlds” in Walnut Park: How architects adopted an ethnographic case study on living with dementia

Understanding future users is recognised to be essential in design, yet also challenging. Often architects have no direct access to the experiences of others, like people with dementia. Case studies have been suggested as an adequate format to inform designers. This paper investigates the role of an ethnographic case study about a person living with dementia, as provided to an architectural firm designing a residential care facility. Interviews with the architects and an analysis of design materials reveal how they incorporated the case study in their ongoing design. Results indicate that the case study offered insight into users’ daily life and facilitated architects’ concept development. Architects’ resulting concept proved valuable to frame design decisions, while its visualisation played a significant role in internal and external communication. The study contributes to untangling important aspects in informing architects about future users and raises questions regarding researchers’ and designers’ roles in transferring knowledge.

 

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