The winning project, titled Refuge II and located in Flanders, Belgium, is a palliative care facility for a client suffering from terminal illness. The temporary structure is housed within an existing carport and was a group building project, completed by friends and family under the guidance of the architect and specialist consultants.
The client had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an incurable and aggressive condition that would soon render their current house unsuitable for care. Wim Goes Architectuur’s solution was to convert the concrete carport adjacent to the current house into a ‘barrier-free space’ for eating, sleeping and washing. Zones are separated only by curtains. The space can adapt as the client’s requirements change, providing accessibility and comfort throughout the progression of the illness.
More than 100 family and friends, guided by specialists, helped construct the project using modest materials such as straw and clay, facilitating fast construction and ease of future recycling, as well as making the build accessible and familiar.
The building process also provided those close to the client with a means to deal with the mental barrier that had been created by the diagnosis. The Architectural Review explains, “With the life of the building so intertwined with the life of the client, the process of learning how to build and, at times, having to improvise, was mirrored by the process of individuals coming to terms with the client’s situation.”
The director of Wim Goes Architectuur, Wim Goes, will be in Melbourne this month to speak at Diversity and Community, a two-day conference examining how architecture might be a positive force in uncertain times.
The event takes place on 10–12 February 2017. It is hosted by the Architecture Foundation Australia and supported by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) as part of the Victorian Design Program.