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Adjacent Public Spaces and Access Points

In this article, we'll distinguish between good visual access to key urban spaces and specific visual cues to prompt people towards their destination.
Navan Road Primary Care Centre, Dublin, Ireland
Photo Design Features
  • Building has an open and integrated relationship with community.
  • High quality public entrance plaza.
  • Planting and lighting used to define plaza and create welcoming space

Adjacent Roads, Streets and Pavements

Design Considerations and Awareness
Some people living with dementia may have orientation difficulties in the external environment resulting in confusion or disorientation. Clear signage in urban spaces will enhance wayfinding, as will the provision of a clear circulation hierarchy comprised of distinct and legible spaces and buildings. Good visual access to key urban spaces and facilities will provide visual cues in terms of orientation and will help remind or prompt people regarding their destination.

Where possible and appropriate, urban design can reflect traditional urban patterns such as the typical street and block patterns found in towns and cities around Ireland. This urban form is recognisable to most people, and if designed using the principles of legibility and distinctiveness, it will provide more coherent and easily understood urban spaces for all people.

Some people living with dementia may be fearful of their personal security and safety when out in the community. Greater legibility and a clear circulation hierarchy will help but as referred to previously, other design approaches such as CPTED will also help to reduce opportunities for crime and reduce fear of crime (refer to Appendix C for further reading on CPTED).

Creating a calm urban environment which seeks to minimise visual clutter and excessive noise will be beneficial to people with dementia. Lower vehicle speed or design that creates lower traffic volume will also contribute to calmer urban spaces for all people

UD Dementia Friendly Design Guidance

  • Where possible locate any new patient-buildings adjacent to the public boundary to ensure it is easily identified, located, and accessed by pedestrians and motorists arriving to the hospital.
  • Where the building is located at a distance from the public boundary, ensure there is a one clear and easily identified route from the public road to the main entrance of the building.
  • Increase spatial legibility by employing a grid-like urban structure composed of well-connected short streets with good visual access to key landmarks and spaces. Greater enclosure formed by clearly visible buildings and spaces with obvious functions and entrances will also aid legibility.
  • Use landmark objects or buildings to create urban distinctiveness especially at junctions or important nodes. This will help to create more recognisable spaces and thus enhance wayfinding.
  • Consider how urban spaces can engender a sense of familiarity by the provision of human-scale, informal spaces inspired by traditional urban patterns, building design and features. This does not preclude innovative design but instead challenges the designer to employ recognisable spaces, features and functions which are consistent with users’ expectations.
  • Provide calm spaces that avoid excessive acoustic disturbance through design that reduces traffic volume and speed, and orientates noise generating activities away from hospitals and key amenity spaces.
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Dementia Inclusive Hospitals from a Universal Design Approach

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