Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes, French Care Home Building

EHPAD : Care Homes in France

French Care Home – design by Tectoniques Architectes, Lyon

25 Oct 2011

EHPAD in Grenoble + Mervans

Design: Tectoniques, Architects

Living in a care home, two matching projects

EHPAD (Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes, i.e. a residence for the elderly dependent), in Grenoble and Mervans, by Tectoniques Architects.

Tectoniques is strongly attached to the role of architecture in the humanisation of care homes.

EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble:
EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble EHPAD Vigny-Musset à Grenoble EHPAD Vigny-Musset EHPAD Grenoble

As concerns facilities for elderly people, we focus on habitability and quality of life. By definition, there is a problem of repetitiveness and monotony in such establishments. Our emphasis is therefore on differentiation, a qualitative approach to intermediate contexts, ergonomics and climatics. A new generation of specialist care homes must adapt to longer periods of occupancy and a more residential type of utilisation. A facility for the elderly is no longer simply a care unit or a “parking zone”. It is a home in its own right, and also a place for people to receive visits from family and friends, who are given such a mediocre reception in many current facilities.

EHPAD à Mervans:
EHPAD Grenoble Mervans EHPAD Grenoble Mervans EHPAD Grenoble Mervans EHPAD Grenoble Mervans

The two projects presented here illustrate this ethos. They respond simultaneously to three criteria: the residents’ quality of life and wellbeing, the optimisation of day-to-day functioning, for both users and staff, technical and economic rationality.

Physical wellbeing subtends psychological wellbeing by providing a diversity of ambiances and spaces articulated round a dialogue between privacy and sociability. This results in architectural choices based on the character of the site, including gardens and patios. There are multiple vistas, both inner and outer, that enrich the residents’ sensorial stimuli, and in turn increase the degree of appropriation, particularly in the private sphere. As regards “decoration”, the collective spaces are not homogenised or standardised. There are lively, contrasting colours and a variety of materials, with a bias in favour of wood and its derivatives.

EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble:
EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble EHPAD Vigny-Musset à Grenoble EHPAD Vigny-Musset EHPAD Grenoble

The architects wanted to get away from the traditional idea of hospital-type accommodation, notably by optimising the relationship between architecture and landscape, and, in general, receptiveness to the outside world. They see gardens as spaces for mediation and cohabitation between buildings and their surroundings. And this is a central feature of both the Grenoble and Mervans projects. Though enclosed, they are visually open. They are friendly and sociable for the users, with fountains, vegetable gardens and meandering walkways, either covered or exposed.

Particular attention is given to hygro-thermic comfort during hot weather. Systematic air conditioning is avoided in favour of ground-coupled heat pumps, active solar protection, nocturnal ventilation, extra insulation for the facades, and planted-out roofs. Acoustics is also a sensitive point, given that many of the residents have hearing problems. Each aspect of utilisation is treated individually.

EHPAD à Mervans:
EHPAD Grenoble Mervans EHPAD Grenoble Mervans EHPAD Grenoble Mervans

The two programmes are quite similar in size and specifications.
The Grenoble complex was designed for 80 people, and that of Mervans for 82.
Each possesses an Alzheimer unit of 15-20 beds.
They are divided into living units of around 20 beds, each with its own services: dining room, bathroom, treatment facilities and a garden (on the ground floor) or a patio (on the first floor).
The reception and activity spaces are shared, and are also available to people from outside on a day-care basis.

The contexts of the projects are somewhat different.

EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble:
EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble EHPAD Vigny-Musset à Grenoble

The one in Grenoble is an EHPAD (Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Agées Dépendantes, i.e. a residence for the elderly dependent), which marks the culmination of a major municipal development covering 22 hectares in the south of the city.
The project occupies a trapezoidal city block. Though flanked by apartment blocks 5 or 6 storeys high, the facility itself is low in profile, on account of the legislative constraints to which it is subject.
The complex has two facets: to the west, on Boulevard Vigny-Musset, there is a continuous frontage that gives a homogeneous alignment and a degree of protection, notably from noise pollution; to the east, facing the residential sector of the development zone, the building is open, and its gardens form a continuity with the public space.

Two gardens have been created between the three wings of the accommodation units. This configuration preserves openness, and ensures a placid, uninterrupted mediation between the EHPAD and the rest of the city, allowing its occupants to observe and relate to the world beyond.
The two levels of the edifice are separate and distinct. The ground floor is a plinth in sweeps of white concrete, with broad, transparent areas. It comprises the reception, shared spaces, the kitchen and technical facilities. The accommodation is on the upper floor, which is in wood with a facing of dark, slightly metallised panels, in contrast to the whiteness of the walls below. It is larger in area than the ground floor, and the resulting overhangs form sheltered galleries along the facades facing the garden. Architecturally speaking, this arrangement lightens and dynamises the outline of the building, and the residential part is perched above the garden and the public spaces of the development zone. The roof, which is visible from the upper floors of the neighbouring buildings, has been entirely planted out, and is free of any artificial presence other than the solar panels on the central wing.

EHPAD à Mervans:
EHPAD Grenoble Mervans EHPAD Grenoble Mervans

The second project is that of Mervans, in the Burgundy region. It is located in a residential area in the midst of a flourishing natural setting, with traditional architecture characterised by simple forms and broad roofs.
The project fits in with its surroundings. Its two main buildings are segmented into six blocks that replicate the scale of the neighbouring constructions. Horizontally, they undulate; vertically, they face in different directions, forming an agglomerate without any apparent pattern. The folds and planes are idiosyncratic rather than clear and unambiguous.

Overhanging roofs accompany this movement, contrasting with the overall silhouette. They are covered in zinc, with narrow eaves fascias, and the gutters are integrated into the facades so as to conserve the simplicity of the lines.
Unlike the EHPAD, whose facades are smooth and tense, the architectural style of the Mervans project is marked by considerable graphic complexity linked to the presence of a highly figured exo-structure in wood. Within this structural plan there are large windows that represent “landscape pictures”.

Specialising in dry construction techniques, Tectoniques has for long been interested in the principles associated with timber frame buildings. The firm is active in numerous sectors of architecture, including public buildings, housing and leisure facilities, with a strong commitment to environmental standards. Tectoniques applies construction protocols that are at once simple, clean and progressive.

EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble – Building Information

Area: 3,699 sqm
Cost: 7 M € H.T
Client: Actis
Architects: Tectoniques
Engineering: Sechaud Bâtiment / groupe IOSIS
Supervision: Veritas
Works foreman: OPCI

EHPAD à Mervans – Building Information

Area: 4,850 sqm
Cost: 7,2 M € H.T.
Client: Conseil Général de Saône et Loire
Architects: Tectoniques
Energy, water, gas, electricity, concrete structure: Technip TPS
Renewable energy support: Technip TPS
Wood structure: Arborescence
Supervision : Apave
Works foreman: ACEBTP

Photographs : © Renaud Araud and © Agence Tectoniques

Translator : John Doherty

EHPAD de la ZAC Vigny-Musset à Grenoble + EHPAD à Mervans images / information from Tectoniques Architectes

Location:Mervans, France

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