Kentalis, St. Michielsgestel
By far the most impressive building in St. Michelsgestel has to be the neo-gothic Institute for the Deaf (1910) that is now home to Royal Kentalis. This institution supports people who have difficulty hearing, are deaf or deaf and blind, have a neurocognitive developmental disorder or who have a combination of communicative disorders. For some of Kentalis’ clients assisted living at the premises is the most suitable option. It is with them in mind that we designed a unique square shaped home.
Safety in all its forms is absolutely crucial for those who face deaf blindness combined with autism. On the one hand because one’s world is usually involuntarily smaller than that of most people. On the other hand because experiencing any environment is very complex when not all five senses are fully at one’s disposal. Having difficulty interpreting auditory, visual or sensory impulses adds another challenge to an ordinary day of living. When our team had the opportunity to experience this for ourselves by wearing blindfolds and special noise reducing headphones, we learned just how difficult it is to get one’s bearings and how any surprises are shocking and even threatening.
In close cooperation with the professionals at Royal Kentalis we designed airy and spacious homes that lack stimuli. The community of 20 independent homes is centered around a square with a community center on it. With each pair of independent homes being interconnected by shared facilities and living room. There are no stairs anywhere as they present an extra challenge and private terraces are available to every individual client. Embedded in these gardens lies the yellow bricked structure which combined with the green landscape exudes a calm atmosphere. The shared living rooms have all been fitted with skylights. Noteworthy are the PVC cones that have been placed on the roof tops and which serve as especially designed sunshades, providing each living rooms with pleasant diffuse sunlight.