Vialonga Elderly Day Care Center

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Vialonga Elderly Day Care Center
ELDERLY DAY CARE CENTER VIALONGA | VILA FRANCA DE XIRA | PORTUGAL The elderly day care centre is located in a peripheral area of Lisbon, inserted in an urban context with the common debility characteristics of the suburban clusters near the big cities. This centre appears in a neighbourhood with relatively recent blocks of apartments (mainly with half century of existence) and already looks relatively degraded, with a great lack of urban planning and no coherence in terms of matter. The population is essentially divided in to two distinctive groups. The first one is known as the active population that in a daily basis have to drive into the main cities to work, and the other group is determined by the elder people that split there time between attending families meetings and relating themselves with old friends and well known faces, talking and playing cards through the coffee shops of the neighbourhood, as well in the few green areas. The day care centre urges as a response from local autarchy to help create a space for this second group - the elder population, offering them a place to interact between each other with all the comfort needs such as a cantina for meals, a space for health care needs, a barber shop. Formally and conceptually, our intentions were to create a singular architectural object. In this social, cultural and urban context, the day care centre appears as a reference, enhancing itself from the surrounding buildings through form and scale. Beginning with a pure box, we gave each limit of that box a different height that consequently defined in its interior a variable ceiling depending in each programmatic function. In the exterior, we achieved a formal dimension that is characterized by non orthogonal facades, and consequently create a “traditional` roof with two slopes. From a subtraction exercise originates an exterior patio in the centre of the building, creating a larger interaction with almost all the interior spaces, as well as natural lighting and ventilation. These thermal characteristics provide excellent conditions for the two fruit trees placed inside the patio, daily taken care by the population with water and catching from time to time there fruits. In the north elevation, it was necessary to create an interior inflection to allow covered access for elder population that were transported by vehicles. This generous space, besides serving the purpose of announcing the main entrance, also protects the building from climate conditions. The exterior character was since the beginning thought as unique material, covering wall and roof surfaces, enhancing this way a more abstract vision for this architectural piece The result was the creation of a singular building that besides answering all the programmatic needs for this type of equipment, it goes against the stereotype image of “old age retirement homes`. It also has been very much appreciated by the daily users as from the youngest elements of the family, having then an important role in the social and cultural regeneration of this area.


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