Forgetful, forgiving, and unforgettable

Forgetful, forgiving, and unforgettable
Interior of dementia village "Lantern of Chagrin Valley," Ohio, USA. March 2022. Photograph by the author.
The rise of dementia villages between idyll and marginalization

Alberto Geuna
Turin, Italy.
Team members
Alberto Geuna
Field of work
Architecture, Urban planning, Engineering, Research, Other
Project category
Rural spaces
Project submitted

Alberto Geuna is an architect and Ph.D. candidate at Politecnico di Milano. His research centers on the phenomenology of dwelling in the context of institutions of care, focusing specifically on residential care for people with dementia. He graduated from Politecnico di Torino in 2014 and received a post-master degree cum laude from the Berlage, TU Delft (2019). His professional experience includes collaborations with Sauerbruch Hutton Architekten (2014), Lacaton & Vassal Architectes (2015), BDR Bureau (2016 and 2018), and Carlo Ratti Associati (2019). His work with BDR Bureau was displayed at the 2016 and 2018 Venice Biennale. From 2015 to 2021 he was cofounder of Turin - based collective BTT, with whom he participated in the Milan Triennale exhibition 999 Domande (2018) and designed the China Goes Urban exhibition for the Asian Art Museum of Turin, among numerous other activities.
Since 2021 he is a design leader at the interdisciplinary design firm LVNG, where he leads the Research and Development department. His written work has appeared in journals like San Rocco, Domus, Footprint, and Log. He collaborates regularly with the journal STOA, which focuses on architectural education. He regularly teaches at Politecnico di Milano and has been a guest critic at KU Leuven, Politecnico di Torino, the University of Naples, and the University of Texas.

Much has been written recently in the architectural literature on habitation regarding communities that set up autonomous zones, where separate sets of rules apply regarding individual and collective behavior. Within this larger context, the focus of the proposed book is Dementia Villages: nursing homes dedicated to the specific treatment of Dementia. Dementia villages apply a spatial version of reminiscence therapy, replicating community life in a controlled setting. Their nature as simulated environments leads some scholars to define them as Truman Show-Esque. The dementia village model appeared in the Netherlands in 2008. Since then, the model has spread all over the world.
While still a niche phenomenon, dementia villages are gathering endorsements from a growing number of healthcare systems, governments, and opinion groups. Dementia villages are isolated gated communities, usually located on the outskirts of cities or the countryside. Architecturally, they consist of low-rise buildings organized around one or more courtyards. In addition to housing units, specific village sections have shared services including restaurants, barbershops, and other amenities that mimic urban environments. My doctoral research, currently in its final stage, argues that this specific innovative aspect qualifies dementia villages as an emerging collective living type, from which architects and other spatial practitioners can learn when designing in caring contexts.
The central argument of the proposed book will be a problematization of the notion of care based on the ethnological study of the case at hand and on the transdisciplinary investigation of nursing practices and literature.
The book will place the dementia village in the context of the countryside debate, evaluating their specificities on the backdrop of current social issues like aging and the abandonment of rural territories.
The aim of this application is to further the scope of the research and disseminate it.