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The Dukyang Senior Center presents the opportunity to redefine the architectural standards by which the elderly live and enjoy their senior years. Our proposal explores the principles of “universal design” as a strategic foundation for this institution, addressing issues of accessibility, flexibility in use, simplicity and intuitiveness of elements, perceptibility of information, tolerance for error, and low physical effort. Historically, architectural questions regarding people of varied abilities have been marginalized by the design discipline. Even in the 20th century when a certain social consciousness has emerged about civil rights and equal opportunities, our profession has addressed it primarily through administrative or technocratic means. This project transforms this bureaucratic imperative into a design opportunity, a vehicle for architectural pleasure, and a means to invent a spectacular new building type based on the idea of a barrier-free environment.

For the purpose of this competition, we focused on the principles of “accessibility” and “flexibility in use”, which implicate circulation, place-making, and architecture in the broadest terms possible. We propose an accessible ramp to bind the entire program of the senior center in a continuous architectural promenade. The ramp is embellished by furnishings that are related to their corresponding programs: seats for lounges, game boards for game rooms, counters and tables for dining, among other things— all attributes that may foster the kind of interaction that is the goal of a community center. Thus, the ramp is not merely for vehicle circulation, but rather the very mechanism by which the main social space of the senior center is activated. The central hall also contains two elevators one of which houses seating and is large enough to act as a point of encounter.

Principal in charge:
Nader Tehrani

Project Design:
Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani

Project Team:
Remon Alberts, Arthur Chang, Anna Goodman, Hye Young Chung, Julian Palacio,

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