In my diploma project I dealt with the reorganization and the development of a social care center for the mentally ill. The Institution is situated in Brâncovenești a middle size village in the north of Mureș County, which is famous about its renaissance Castle and the presence of a Roman Castrum. During the Communist times the Government took over the Castle and inaugurated the Care Center, after the Revolution they had to move out. Now they are in an in-between stage trying to create their own environment. Through my project I wanted to create this vision.
Developing the architectural program I worked closely with the Institution’s medical and therapeutical personal, few times even with the director. The Institution is a special Social Care Center, not a mental hospital, due to this the patients stay for indefinite times, it’s like a residence for them. The patient’s condition varies from severe to less troubled. The most effective rehabilitation therapies known today is the beneficial effects of nature and occupational therapy, which varies from sport to creating art or growing their own food.
In present times they suffer from a lack of infrastructure, a part of the Institution is working in the old annexes of the Castle, the other part in newly built pavilions.
I started the project by analyzing the site and the situation to resolve the conflict between the Monument and the Institution. The restructuring started with defining two new entrances, the main and the supplying entrance. The second step was defining the functional zones continuing the present structure which evolved organically. 7 zones where restructured: the residential, the medical, the therapeutical, the administration, the supply, the creation and the commemoration zones and added 3 more the horticultural zone, the sport zone and the landscaped park area. The urbanistic concept was to create separate enclosures for the different zones and in the meantime keeping a clear layout to help the patients create their mental maps more easily. For defining a different character for the enclosures I used the vegetation and different landscape designs. For the architectural language simplicity was the main consideration. I wanted to utilize the traditional house typology with a contemporary interpretation and by this to offer a unifying built environment which mediates the present buildings. Almost every building has a protected exterior part which gives the possibility to use outdoor spaces even in bad weather conditions.
One more architectural element that I would like to mention that I analysed in my theoretical project is the use of colors. I utilized them to further specify the atmosphere of the places and to color code the different zones to ease the orientation of the patients. Colors are an element with a great impact on our visual perception, giving birth to a variety of affective responses, in the meantime they are very affordable, one thing that is always a priority to consider.