User research methods applied to architecture.
In a few years time 20 mentally disabled youngsters will live independently in Arabianranta, Helsinki. The housing project was initiated by their parents, who feared their adult children would not find proper livings.
In January 2004 the Future Home Institute introduced a project to five industrial design students.The subject of the project was to make living concepts specially designed for this specific group of youngsters. The final concept will be used as an outline by the architect.
Mentally disabled people are usually do have different needs. Unfortunately this diversity usually leads to two opposed behaviours: a negative one which would consider them “inferior” and a protective one which would consider them “special”. Both behaviours do not look at their needs and strenght in a direct way. That is what we tried to do: to work for them and with them without preconceptions.
We understood that the idea of the house as a small community would be the central idea of the concept. The Käpytikka house is a like little village, with floors as neighborhoods. Like in villages the private houses are build around common areas, where people meet and come together. The common area on each floor is thought for different activities: relaxing, performing, chatting, observing. Our concept was presented and then given to the architect incharged of the design. The construction of the house has already started and we hope in the near future to see the results.