Designing a Home to Accommodate Alzheimer’s

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July 25, 2014
Originally published in Modern Across America
as
A Sense of Place
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  Claire and Ken Stevens approached architect Ko Wibowo to create a modern addition to their 1970s home in Tacoma, Washington. The couple’s needs had changed since Ken was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago.  

    Claire and Ken Stevens approached architect Ko Wibowo to create a modern addition to their 1970s home in Tacoma, Washington. The couple’s needs had changed since Ken was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago.

     

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  The couple's house, designed by architect L. Jane Hastings in the early 1970s, is located on a steeply sloped site that backs up to a state park.

    The couple's house, designed by architect L. Jane Hastings in the early 1970s, is located on a steeply sloped site that backs up to a state park.

  • 
  In the early stages of the addition concept process, Wibowo referred to a research publication from Australia, Dementia Care and the Built Environment, which underscores the importance of building a space that is as homelike as possible, with abundant light and many familiar objects in place. The architect accomplished this by creating custom shelving to hold ceramics that Ken made or collected over the years along with pieces by artist friends

    In the early stages of the addition concept process, Wibowo referred to a research publication from Australia, Dementia Care and the Built Environment, which underscores the importance of building a space that is as homelike as possible, with abundant light and many familiar objects in place. The architect accomplished this by creating custom shelving to hold ceramics that Ken made or collected over the years along with pieces by artist friends

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  Ultimately the aim of the design is to help Ken retain his memories and keep him safe.   

    Ultimately the aim of the design is to help Ken retain his memories and keep him safe.   

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  The addition’s beveled cedar siding will eventually weather to match the existing shakes, “but it’s different enough to distinguish the two,” says Wibowo. “The window frames and metal roof color also match the dark bronze aluminum of the existing house, so it all blends."

    The addition’s beveled cedar siding will eventually weather to match the existing shakes, “but it’s different enough to distinguish the two,” says Wibowo. “The window frames and metal roof color also match the dark bronze aluminum of the existing house, so it all blends."

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  Wibowo also notes that the window on the bridge between the two structures could eventually be replaced with a door if the couple ever want to build a ramp.

    Wibowo also notes that the window on the bridge between the two structures could eventually be replaced with a door if the couple ever want to build a ramp.

  • 
  The addition, which includes a bedroom and a bathroom, also boasts an enclosed deck, a feature recommended for those with Alzheimer’s. “Ken used to do the landscaping here,” says Wibowo. “He also put many of the shingles on the original house.”

    The addition, which includes a bedroom and a bathroom, also boasts an enclosed deck, a feature recommended for those with Alzheimer’s. “Ken used to do the landscaping here,” says Wibowo. “He also put many of the shingles on the original house.”

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  Stevens Addition Floor Plan A    Existing Entry B    Existing Living Room C    Bridge Connector D    Bedroom E    Bathroom F    Study G    Enclosed Deck

    Stevens Addition Floor Plan

    A    Existing Entry

    B    Existing Living Room

    C    Bridge Connector

    D    Bedroom

    E    Bathroom

    F    Study

    G    Enclosed Deck

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