Latitude/Longitude: 52.5366, 6.04721
The Zonnehuis in Zwolle is a large and, in terms of function, traditional nursing home. But it is also designed to be able to meet the various individual needs of every resident, including those who are completely bedridden.
The Zonnehuis in Zwolle is a care institution that concentrates on (intensive) nursing home care. The complex has four residential wings, one for long term somatic care, two for residents with psychogeriatric problems, and for revalidation, and a day care department. The majority of long-term residents are elderly.
The idea of this new building in the suburb of Stadshagen is to create a facility that provides the necessary nursing care efficiently and adequately. One less concern for personnel. At the same time, the goal is to meet the individual resident’s needs – including spiritual. Also, the complex must take up a clearly recognisable place in the neighbourhood.
Two intersecting buildings form a series of independent nursing homes enclosing two private courtyards and a plaza with a variety of facilities that the neighbourhood can share, too. On the east side, a church is connected to the main building. This church, which belongs to the ‘Open Kring’ prtestant congregation, is also accessible to residents who are bedridden.
To connect with the surroundings, the lines of the slate covered main building reflect the rectangular layout of the neighbourhood. The entrances are in the middle, along with the plaza where residents and public now meet. A second, light cream stucco building zigzags through this grey-brown earthly complex. Like snakeskin that has been shed, it represents the future that awaits beyond one’s incarnation on earth.
The common plaza forms the heart. The outlying buildings are the peacefully situated independent residential units. Separately accessible ‘houses’. Each unit has eight individual rooms, a living room with kitchen and an outdoor patio, which is accessible to bedridden residents, too. Sanitary facilities vary: revalidation homes have private bathrooms, two somatic homes share one bathroom, and one bathroom is included in each psychogeriatric wing. For people with such limited mobility, a view of the outside world is essential. The intersecting building components create a relatively large amount of surface area, and the housing groups look out on one another as well as two courtyard gardens. One of the gardens is designed for rest and relaxation, and the other is intended for socialising. The windows are situated at bed height. The position of the window takes into account the sun’s position, which works to naturally regulate incoming natural light and warmth.
To make it easy to navigate around the building, a clearly-defined colour and material scheme was chosen. A carpet of light oak leads from the plaza up to openings of the intersections. Each unit of the building, and within these each house, has its own colour floor. The flat-lying doors of the service areas are an inconspicuous grey, and the recessed doors of the residents’ rooms feature the specific ‘house colour’.
⇒ Architecture Guide to ZWOLLE