The most modern building in Xertigny, a small town in eastern France, is a nursing home. The residents’ needs are reflected in the architecture, choice of material and layout of the pathways.
Architecture and material: A place of well-being for seniors
The sleepy town of Xertigny lies about two hours by car from Strasbourg. Here, the “Saint-André” modern care and retirement home recently opened its doors. It is specially designed for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The main requirements for the new care home were ease of navigability and accessibility for persons with reduced mobility. The building is laid out around a central “village square,” aimed to facilitate orientation, and the garden is accessible to people with restricted mobility from each storey of the building, even though this required levelling of height differences of up to 15m on the building site. To achieve this, natural stone bridges were built at some places.
The design of the home jogs the residents’ memories. There are no dead ends, and every hallway in the building is lit by natural light. The Ehpad Xertigny management created a vegetable garden and a therapeutic farmyard which provides the residents with meaningful daily occupation, while the plant life helps them recognise the seasons of the year. “The trees planted around the cafeteria change colour over the course of the year, which alerts residents to the season”, explain the architects from CLP Architecture.
The different wings can be identified from outside as both wooden and brick façades are used: The residents’ quarters are behind clay brick façades and the common areas and offices are behind wooden panelling. “The residents, especially the ones with cognitive problems, are able to get their bearings between the different areas more easily,” explain the architects.
Façade with warmth
For the brick façade, the Koramic Plate 301 roofing tiles in the colour “Tuscany” were chosen. “Together with the management of the retirement home, we looked for a sustainable, natural material with low maintenance,” commented the architects from CLP. The bricks were laid with special zinc joints that combine to form a rhythmic structure on the façades, although this meant that the assembly process was challenging.
Prototypes were developed in advance so that workers could practice and perfect their techniques for laying the bricks at the edges of the roof and the corners. This also ensures easy maintenance over the long term. The clients, together with the architects, created a place that takes advantage of the rural surroundings and allows nature to bring about its healing effect, even on the façades.
Facts & Figures
Project name: L’Ehpad „Saint-André“, Xertigny, France