Designing for Dementia

For an Architect, on any project, it is essential to understand the space you’re working with and the way it will be used by its custodian.

It’s not just about the aesthetics of a building, although I’m not going to say this isn’t important, but it’s about the way the building will envelop its occupants and particularly for housing and residential projects, how the owners/occupiers will live out experiences in their homes.

Having designed and delivered residential projects for over 20 years, you could say that I’ve become somewhat of an “expert” in designing desirable living spaces. Which is why when Space Architects was invited to assist the University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) in creating a digital tool to assess the suitability of living spaces for older people and particularly those living with dementia, it was a perfect fit for us.

At Space, we’re not your typical architecture practice, we use advanced technologies for digital construction which allows us to work in 3D design formats and create a building virtually, before it is constructed physically.  

It is this digital design process which will enable us to access the suitability of homes and housing stock for dementia care.

Today there are over 2 million elderly people in the UK who have a care related need, with more than half of these being unable to afford adequate personal care, but surveys show that 90% of over-50s would prefer to stay at home even when they need care.

In the UK, a wealth of housing stock is categorically unsuitable for elderly living, we are in an era where people are living longer and we have a duty of care to offer a better quality of life and improved living standards to allow people to remain independent for longer.

By creating housing stock that is designed or reconfigured specifically for an aging population is therefore essential.

What we’re doing in association with the DSDC is offering a service which will reduce the high cost of specialist care by creating and adapting living spaces for specific needs and future-proofing residences for further demands as an individuals’ needs change.

Through the introduction of a new Iridis App, people can independently assess living spaces and take, often simply steps, to make them dementia-friendly.

For example; replacing bold patterns and high contrasting border on wall and floor coverings for plain, as patterns can cause confusion.  Equally, good lighting helps people to see more clearly and make sense of where they are.

By providing the right home environment we can help people to stay safe, physically active and maintain mental stimulation, in addition to reducing the demand on professional health care services.

This Iridis App will be available to everyone from the Autumn, when individuals, families, care providers and designers will be able to assess housing and living spaces using simple steps to provide details of the current accommodation and in turn will receive recommendations on improvement actions.

This service is truly ground-breaking as it enables people to take immediate action, based on proven research from leading academics and approve building regulations and standards.

Read further details on the new Iridis App here.


Stephen Brooks, Director, Space Architects 


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