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Competition: Velp care home, The Netherlands

Dutch care home operator Dichterbij has launched an open international contest for a major upgrade of its care home in Velp, the Netherlands (Deadline: 29 November)

Organised by Phidias Community Cooking, the competition seeks proposals for a new community space to boost social interaction between residents of the care home and of the surrounding rural village.

The project aims to upgrade services at the facility in line with contemporary ‘HealthCare 2.0’ standards. Residents at the care home – which provides for children and adults with mental disabilities – currently live in housing ‘clusters’ with access to a shared activity centre but no leisure facilities.

Contest site in Velp, The Netherlands

Contest site in Velp, The Netherlands

Contest site in Velp, The Netherlands

According to the brief: ‘Dichterbij Velp is looking for an innovative concept that offers space for living, day care activities and leisure that fits the needs of its clients and employees. It must become a place where clients can receive care in a safe and sheltered environment.

‘At the same time the new concept must have an open and transparent character that stimulates social integration and strengthens the connection with the inhabitants of Velp.’

Dichterbij provides specialist long-term care for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and strong behavioural and psychiatric problems. It operates several care homes across The Netherlands, including a 17ha facility on the edge of Velp in the municipality of Grave, in the province of Noord Brabant.

Phidias Community Cooking is a collaborative architectural platform focusing on innovative and sustainable design. It is supported by Jo Coenen Architects & Urbanists, Rabobank 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. Last summer Phidias and Dichterbij held a contest to overhaul a 22,000m² facility in Mikado, Horst.

The latest competition challenges participants to boost social integration and create new sustainable connections between care home residents in Velp and the surrounding village. Participants must also consider how the spatial quality and the architectural layout of Dichterbij Velp could deliver a normal life for clients and a pleasant workplace for employees

Judges include Dichterbij manager Jocko Wittenaar, Dichterbij head of real estate Antal Smits, and Joop Petit, architect and founder of Phidias Community Cooking.

The competition language is English and the overall winner will receive a €1,500 prize while a second prize of €400 and third prize of €300 will also be awarded. The client aims to work with the winning teams to realise the project.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 23:59 local time (CEST) on 29 November


Early bird registration from 28 August to 1 October: €40
Standard registration from 2 October to 5 November: €50
Late registration from 6 November to 25 November: €60

Contact details

Phidias Community Cooking
Mauritslaan 49
6129 EL Urmond

The Netherlands


Visit the competition website for more information

West Hall Care Home case study: Q&A with Duncan Cryer

The associate architect and studio head at Atkins discusses lessons learned creating an innovative care home in Surrey, England

How did your West Hall Care Home project deliver a ‘next generation’ environment for dementia sufferers and their relatives?

West Hall is designed to be dementia transparent, helping those living with dementia to independently orientate themselves and creating obvious wayfinding clues without creating an institutional environment.

Our design focused on maximising natural light, allowing visual and physical access to the outdoors across all floors and using interior design and layout to help with orientation around the home and wider site.

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

The care home is made up of clusters, each containing 11 to 14 bedrooms, arranged around the central living and dining spaces. This layout avoids long and confusing corridors and is supported further by the use of assistive technologies, such as light guidance for navigation at night.

Memory boxes displaying personal effects are located next to customer’s bedroom doors, celebrating their lives and individuality. This is supplemented by coloured textured panels to help identify each room.

Which architectural, material, sustainable and other methods did you harness in your design?

The use of organic clusters responds to passive design principles and was instrumental in securing planning consent within the green belt, with the highest points at the centre of the site gently sloping towards the perimeter. The south-facing cedar veil of brise soleil helps to anchor the scheme to the landscape whilst providing solar shading and framing views from each of the clusters. Green roofs reduce rainwater runoff, provide increased insulation and enhance site wide biodiversity.

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

Economical materials, such as render, were used to enable composite windows, glazed balconies and composite decking, creating a durable, high-quality environment. Highly insulated external envelopes, supported by ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels, help offset energy and hot water demand while ensuring the home is sustainable.

The team was also fortunate enough to undercover historical features during the refurbishment of the Manor House, which now enhance the internal environment and ensure the Manor House is a destination for communal living and activities.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing an innovative care home for mentally disabled children and adults?

Use your expertise from other fields or sectors to propose something imaginative and welcoming for users, rather than regurgitating previous schemes.

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

West Hall Care Home by Atkins

Q&A with Joop Petit

The founder of Phidias Community Cooking discusses his ambitions for the competition

Joop Petit

Joop Petit

Joop Petit

Why are your holding a competition for an innovative new care home for mentally disabled children and adults in Velp?

Phidias Community Cooking is an organisation that challenges broad-minded designers to find creative solutions for problems within the built environment through competitions. We came into contact with Stichting Dichterbij, a Dutch healthcare institution, which is struggling with how to improve their facilities in Velp as well as the way they provide care. We invite everyone to help them redefine their care system (both spatially and functionally) and international participation gives us access to experience from around the world. It is an opportunity to learn from the way they provide care in perhaps Asia, or South America. We welcome the different experiences and perspectives.

What is your vision for the new development?

The site in Velp is large; approximately 17ha. It is a green, forested environment in the periphery of Velp, and Dichterbij aims for more connection and exchange with the community of Velp and increased social integration. We are looking for innovation in both architectural and healthcare concepts. Architecture is a powerful tool that helps shape and define how we use space, and it can therefore be used to help redefine the way we provide care and improve it. Sustainability is important, however not necessarily emphasised as a focus point of the brief. As Phidias Community Cooking, we find an awareness and regard towards sustainability in new designs self-evident.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We welcome contestants from all disciplines, ranging from architects to healthcare workers, from urban designers to students. Having someone with knowledge or a background in architecture in your team can be advantageous since it enables you to submit a more architecturally or realistically elaborated plan. However, someone with years of experience in working with our target group can also submit their visions and concepts for this site. An elaborated vision or concept is just as valuable a submission as a detailed architectural plan.

Aside from the money prize the competition winners receive, we also aim to involve the winners in the realisation of the project. For instance, the winners (first and shared second place) of ‘Carefully Designed’, a previous competition we organised, are now collaborating to design the actual plan. We organised workshops where the three different parties came together to discussed their winning plans and merged them to a new design containing the best of the three submissions. The winners differ from a more experienced urban design office (RRog, first place) to a young architecture firm (studio Komma, joint second place) and even recently graduated architects (Ommar&Ruhl / Atelier van Lanen, joint second place).

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Phidias Community Cooking is part of Phidias Community Innovation, where we develop and realise innovative and sustainable exploitation and real-estate concepts that bring new life into abandoned or to be developed real estate at all levels. We support our clients with solutions suited for their problem, and that means also using competitions as a tool to incorporate ideas and design teams from all over the world. The competition winners’ involvement in the project realisation is essential for our competitions. Therefore, for new competitions, we are dependent on clients whose problem fits this approach.

Are there any other innovative care home projects you have been impressed by?

This winning proposal for a new Nye Vardheim healthcare centre in Randaberg, Norway by NORD Architects + 3RW Architects inspires us.