How can ‘care’ be used as a tool to rethink what is considered valuable in urban planning? This project explores the societal and spatial implications of reprogramming vacant hospitals into new Neighborhoods of Care. This is done with care for the climate, for the limited resources, and for the marginalized groups of society that are often left out of modern city planning.
Developing with Care
The project takes its inspiration from feminist economics – a critique of how our modern society assigns value exclusively based on a monetary context – and suggests an alternative value system based on care. The project introduces six concepts of care as a toolkit for urban development: public health, preservation, and adaptive reuse in relation to physical care, and citizen involvement, inclusion of marginalized groups, and gender equality in relation to social care. This project develops a strategy for vacant and not yet demolished or transformed hospitals. Aalborg North Hospital is used as a case study to demonstrate how to establish a Neighborhood of Care with housing functions for vulnerable groups.
House of Care
The House of Care is a community house with a focus on the difficult meeting point between different social groups and the public facilities in Aalborg. The transformation of the existing building is developed with care for our physical environment, with public health, preservation, and adaptive reuse as guidelines. On the ground floor, the Citizen’s Office and the Social Café share the main entry space. From there, hallways lead to the assisted housing functions: the shelter, the senior housing, and the crisis center.
Spatial Interventions of Care
The spatial interventions are created with the existing functions and structures in mind. Working with the aim of preservation and with respect for the local historical identity associated with the hospital, the overall expression of the modernist welfare architecture is preserved. Elements and materials found on site are used, with care for detail, to develop new spaces and interiors. The connective hallways of the existing hospital are enhanced and transformed into The House of Care, which runs through the different buildings, generating smaller pockets to make space for more intimate situations. The ground floor is opened up to invite the public to take part in social activities, while the public spaces are designed with a focus on different identities, making them suitable for specific user groups and for different types of occupation.
Social Interactions of Care
Through models, the project investigates how we as architects can implement not only physical care but also social care in order to sustain and improve existing networks in the development of our urban future. The model façades show the elements of physical care and transformation, while a viewing box in front shows the social care and interactions. Contrary to the regular way of viewing an architectural model in bird’s-eye view, the viewer is invited into a more intimate situation, seeing the use of the architecture at eye level.