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Jorge San Martin

Age/Ing In the City: Housing for Dementia and Berklee College Students

Architecture has the ability to enrich the lives and perceptions of people with dementia. It has the capacity to engage and stimulate the human mind through the engagement of rich sensory stimuli and a weave of programmatic experiences. By conflating programs, architecture can create interactions that stimulate the mind. Fundamental elements of architecture, such as light and acoustics, communicate sensory information that affects how we use and perceive space.

Do I feel safe? Do I feel exposed? Is it loud? Is it quiet? Am I alone?

These questions, so relevant when designing environments for dementia residents, can define space and foster levels of engagement between different inhabitants of a single building.

Mixed-use and intergenerational, this proposal, which is located in Boston’s Back Bay sited above the Massachusetts Turnpike, explores how space is embedded with sensory information that can be used to further integrate dementia residents into their community.

This housing project reestablishes the role of architects in improving the lives of dementia residents by bringing in the outside world. Music and light therapies come in the form of a public amphitheater, child daycare facilities, and accessible gardens that—when coupled with rain, snow, and sunlight—play a major role in activating life in the interior. From a physical and conceptual vantage, this moves away from the institutionalization of the frail and elderly, towards a model of social integration, which numerous studies have suggested mitigate cognitive decline.

About The Designer

While at the GSD, Jorge San Martin was a Graduate Design Intern at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Office of Physical Resources and Planning. He was also co-chair for Design Youth Initiative-Project Link, focused on K-12 design education outreach in Greater Boston.

Previous work experiences include firms in both Miami and Boston: NC Office (DawnTown Seaplane Competition), Aamodt/Plumb Architects (Maine Cabin, Modern Barns and Atlantic Beach Villa) and Studio G Architects.