Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home
wraps around two courtyards

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This retirement home near Antwerp was designed by Belgian studio Areal Architecten around a pair of courtyards to avoid creating identical rooms along endless rows of corridors.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

Areal Architecten wanted the Mayerhof Care Campus to be "a place to grow old with dignity", rather than a sequence of characterless rooms.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

"Such a scheme is a victory for the functionality of these buildings, but a defeat for the domesticity of it," explained architect Jurgen Vandewalle.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

The three-storey complex accommodates 148 residential units within a single building, which features a plan loosely based on a figure of eight. This allowed residences to be grouped into clusters around the two courtyards.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

"Each room gets either a view towards these open spaces in the heart of the nursing home or to the green area around the building," said Vandewalle.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

The largest of the two courtyards is accessible to all residents, while a series of balconies and roof terraces provide accessible outdoor spaces on the upper levels.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

Break-out spaces are dotted across all three floors to encourage residents to interact with their neighbours. There are also several common areas where they can dine or socialise together.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

"Mayerhof Care Campus acts as a small town where functionality and domesticity merge into a fresh environment, and where social interaction, security and integration of people with different needs are in the centre," added the architect.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

The architect used a combination of timber and aluminium cladding to give the building its gridded facade. While the reflective metal provides horizontal stripes, the timber sections alternate with windows in between.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

Areal Architecten has also completed three separate buildings on the site, which provide assisted living for up to 40 residents with disabilities. These structures feature masonry walls with exposed concrete beams.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

Pathways run across the complex in different directions and three vehicular entrances lead into different car parking areas.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

Photography is by Tim Van De Velde.

Read on for a project description by Areal Architecten:


Elderly Care Campus in Mortsel

Nursing homes and other social services are often interpreted according to the same pattern: countless rooms linked together by long corridors. Such a scheme is a victory for the functionality of these buildings, but a defeat for the domesticity of it. In care area Mayerhof the limits of this rational scheme are questioned, while space is created in which a community can grow. Various additions of communal and open areas add to the domesticity of the place.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

By positioning the nursing home in a figure of eight on the site an infinite circulation that connects all the rooms on every floor with each other arises. In this functional diagram however, places where social interaction arises are inserted. At each corner of the figure open spaces create space for interaction. The linear corridor folds around two large voids, creating various perspectives and a sense of overview in the building.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

As the program towards the upper floors is diminishing, terraces arise on every floor with an optimal orientation and protected from the wind. Each room gets either view towards these open spaces in the heart of the nursing home or to the green area around the building. The result is a very light volume that is bathed in natural light and space.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

Besides nursing, three separate volumes provide assisted living, as stately sentinels overlooking the existing nursing home. Large openings with terraces located in a residential area that acts between the nursing home and the surrounding housing. All properties counting two or three facades allowing natural light to invade the living spaces are bundled with a widened corridor that houses the common functions.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards

The new buildings are implanted into the free space on the site around the existing nursing home, which remained in use during the works. After the demolition a green zone is liberated embraced by the new nursing home and assisted living residences. The joint residential area and the underground passage bind the different functions together. Otherwise they set themselves as autonomous parts, but live as integrated components of a unique residential care setting with a focus on lifelong living and care.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards
Axonometric diagram - click for larger image

The choice for three entrances to the site, the construction of streets and indoor spaces and buildings that vary in size and appearance makes this new environment reminiscent of an urban fabric and is way different than the monotonous environments where such programs are mostly housed. The various functions dress in a different architecture. The nursing home is built in a reflective aluminium cladding used as canvas to the sunlight. The assisted living residences have a stately finish in masonry with exposed concrete ring beams.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

Mayerhof Care Campus acts as a small town where functionality and domesticity merge into a fresh environment, and where social interaction, security and integration of people with different needs are in the centre. A community bound together by a rational structure, a place to grow old with dignity.

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards
First floor plan - click for larger image

Client: Sint-Carolus Mayerhof vzw
Building cost: elderly care 148 beds - 12.600.000 euro, assisted living 40 units - 5.600.000 euro
Surface: elderly care 10.104 m² + assisted living 3884 m² + underground parking 1229m²
Structural engineering: ABT België nv
Technical studies: VK Engineering nv
Construction: MBG (CFE)

Areal Architecten's Mayerhof retirement home wraps around two courtyards
Second floor plan - click for larger image