Refuge II involves the development of a temporary space suitable for hosting a terminally ill patient. The use of basic materials and simple technology allows more than a hundred people, family and friends of the patient, to be involved in building the Refuge, offering moral support for the patient’s condition, and transforming a situation of suffering into an experience where the value of community and affectional bonds are rediscovered.
Architecture thus brings a message of love, friendship and solidarity, which can make the final stage of an illness one of more dignity and less suffering, renewing a sense of hope among the people involved. The ease with which the construction elements can be dismantled, and the complete recyclability of the materials, offer a metaphor that reflects the cycle of life.
Refuge II: Temporary House in Nevele, Belgium, by Wim Goes Architectuur BVBA
BigMat National Prize Belgium’19
Use: Rehabilitation center
Location: Flanders, Belgique
Architects: Wim Goes Architectuur
Area: 71.0 m²
Text description provided by the architects
We were asked by our client, diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), to adapt his house with an eye on the future. After meeting with the ergotherapist, we knew we had no time to spare considering the aggressive nature of the condition.Refuge II is a temporary project.
The existing concrete carport was chosen for the project because of the limitation in adaptability of the existing house.
Of course, a barrier-free floor plan was a major concern, but what came to me as being even more important was mental accessibility.
There is no hope to heal.
There is a need for a universal hope, helping each other, involvement, engagement, friendship beyond limits.
How can we make architecture with this?
Why not building with friends and family?
With materials everybody knows from their childhood.
Straw and sand referring to the playground, the smell, the memory…
More than a 100 friends and family contributed in constructing Refuge II.
With tutoring from/and more complicated jobs done by professionals like the sustainable heating and ventilation (with heat recuperation) system or the domotics to manage the doors, curtains, lighting,… controllable by the client.
While building, coffee, tea, food, beer and wine, were served to celebrate life.
Everyone being involved recognized him/herself in Refuge II.
They were part of it, it created a mental accessibility.
The focus changed from sickness and death to hope and future.
Everything will be taken away.
83% of the project (straw and loam) will be spread out over the landscape as fertilisation.
Technical equipment (sponsored) will be returned. Glass, metal, wood,… will be recycled.
Parallel to this attitude, and above all there is a human investment.
The cycle of life.