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Competition: Horst care-home modernisation, The Netherlands

Dutch care-home operator Dichterbij has launched an open international competition to overhaul a 22,000m² facility in Mikado, Horst (Deadline: 17 October)

Organised by Phidias Community Cooking, the contest seeks proposals to upgrade services at the facility in line with contemporary ‘HealthCare 2.0’ standards.

The complex currently features seven buildings, of which three may be comprehensively redeveloped, a further three should be renovated, while the main central building must be preserved.

Horst care home

Horst care home

According to the brief: ‘The requirement for this location is as follows: to create a design that will accommodate long-term care. The basis of the design should be healthcare 2.0, also allowing space for other functions, and not a standard healthcare concept.

‘One is free to interpret the healthcare 2.0 concept in one’s own way, with virtually everything being acceptable. But take care. The location is in the middle of a residential area and the residents place a high level of importance on the quality of life in the village. We want to guarantee the quality of life, which means that the new design should complement its environment.’

Dichterbij provides specialist long-term care for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and strong behavioural and psychiatric problems.

The existing complex was built in 1995, and has several small rooms, a shared kitchen and living room, and a large garden.

Horst care home2

The rural village of Horst, first established in the pre-Roman era, is now a popular tourist destination with several nature reserves, rivers, moors, forests and an amusement park nearby.

Phidias Community Cooking is a collaborative architectural platform focusing on innovative and sustainable design. It is supported by Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists, Robobank financial services and other local stakeholders

Previous contests organised by Phidias include Set Foot in Sittard which sought ideas to regenerate vacant commercial premises at the centre of the historic Dutch city.

Dichterbij director Marcia Adams and Phidias architect Joop Petit are among the five members of the jury.

Digital submissions may feature up to two A1-sized PDF boards and must include a design concept, graphical framework, 3D views and a well-written explanation of the project.

The winner will receive around €1,500 and the opportunity to develop the scheme further. A second place prize of €400 and third place prize worth €300 will also be awarded alongside 10 honourable mentions.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 17 October.


Standard registration from 12 September to 2 October: €50
Late registration from 3 October to 17 October: €60

Contact details

Phidias Community Cooking
Rijksweg Zuid 27
6131 AL Sittard
The Netherlands


Visit the competition website for more information

Craigshill Learning Disability Centre case study: Q&A with Rob Abbott

The director of macmon discusses lessons learned designing £3.4 million disability centre in Livingston, Scotland

How did your Craigshill Learning Centre project respond to its context and users’ requirements?

The Craigshill Learning Disability Centre is located on a greenfield site and replaced two outdated facilities. The building has been designed to offer structured daycare services comprising an autistic unit, behavioural therapy centre, arts and crafts room, music room and IT suite, and a sensory garden.

The building form is very simple and all of the main spaces and rooms are accessed from a single wide multi-use circulation spine. The spine extends from the main front entrance door right through the building length. It is glazed to the principal courtyard and also at both ends to enhance legibility, provide good natural daylighting and to enable passive observation and supervision.

The wings that extend from the spine have been used to provide access, definition and shelter to the communal garden and from the speciality suites, art room, music room and main corridor spaces.

Existing woodland to the north of the site is protected and views are created to this valuable landscape buffer. The building opens to the south, creating access to the sensory garden.

A community café is created at the entrance to encourage the public to integrate and interact with the facility.

Livingston, Scotland

Livingston, Scotland

Craigshill Learning Disability Centre by macmon

What considerations are important when designing a care centre for people with learning disabilities?

Architects should aim for safe, welcoming, non-institutional buildings which recognise and understand diversity of the user group. Designs should encourage integration with community where appropriate. Creation of a therapeutic environment is also key.

Building layout should encourage and create links with external spaces and be integrated with the landscape, embracing views to gardens.

Therapy and sensory gardens should be incorporated and indoor spaces must embrace natural daylight and maximise its benefits.

Clear wayfinding for users is also required. Don’t rely on confusing building layout and signage.

The choice of colours and building materials and textures is very important. Designs should also encourage passive supervision by staff.

A comfortable thermal environment needs to be achieved, with the ventilation and heating strategy properly considered. Building users could have increased anxiety levels and the building operation, including therapy and care, will be compromised if spaces are cold or if they are subject to overheating and have insufficient ventilation.

Livingston, Scotland

Livingston, Scotland

Craigshill Learning Disability Centre by macmon

How would you set about designing a new care centre for Horst that respects the area’s unique context?

Designers must understand unique context and the bespoke model of care that the organisation will be providing to its clients. They must develop the design through a close, collaborative dialogue with the project team and all of the stakeholders, which should include carers.

Sightlines and privacy for both neighbours and centre users must be protected and controlled. The new building should also Integrate with neighbours and with the overall community. Avoid institutional design.

The creation of a community café and potential for shared use of art and therapy spaces should be encouraged.

Mutual potential benefits from the new building should be explored, eg improvements to general landscape context, roads, servicing, drainage, lighting, energy use etc. Community consultation should be encouraged.

Livingston, Scotland

Livingston, Scotland

Craigshill Learning Disability Centre by macmon