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Reflections

Where in the past a house was an exclusive life-long centre of existence, today people often last longer than their environment. The world is changing fast, especially for old people. This proposal is an attempt at finding a connection between the mirror-glass rear façade of the Dr. Jenny Housing and Care centre and its pastoral back yard. I have tried to relate this rather paradoxical situation to the social and cultural background of its users.
The rear façade of this housing project for the elderly is made of mirroring glass, something you mostly see in cities where the movement of light accentuates the urban dynamics. The building therefore represents a point of view on the liveliness, speed and temporality of modern life. The pond in the garden reflects too, which more or less reconciles the restlessness of the glass walls with the intended tranquillity of the garden.
The location for my proposal is the brick lower tier of the building, the transition of the mirror-glass façade and the garden. The bare storeroom wall, with its architecturally inconsequential place, is articulated with a mirroring wall the size of its entire surface. Each residence’s blinds are provided with photos, silk-screened on slightly reflecting material. The photos depict their old habitat, images the inhabitants have kept somewhere. Due to weather conditions, the blinds are mostly raised and there is nothing to be seen.
All inhabitants of the Dr. Jenny centre share the fact that their need to be cared for has brought them here in their old age. Their own houses and their old streets have vanished for ever. When the sun shines and one can be comfortable in the garden, the blinds will be lowered and maybe occasion a cherished memory or a short conversation.
This artwork is a reflection on the place of existence. The images of the streets of old quite literally form the bedrock of the transparent building of the Dr. Jenny housing and care centre. In other words: the old streets reappear in the building, be it as a reflection.



Source: Hans van Houwelingen, clarification for proposal Dr. Jenny Housing and Care centre, 1996