Even the buildings we live in can make a useful contribution when required. The Alcabideche Social Complex is a retirement home for the third age, designed by Portuguese Guedes Cruz Architects, which singularly fails to give off any of those “end of life” or infirmity vibes. Conceived as a village made up of individual independent residences, the complex is inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle and includes support facilities, green spaces, common terraces, swimming pools and a range of shared equipment that bolsters the concept of “active” ageing.
The homes are positioned so as to capture the sunlight, with flat translucent roofs that light up at night like lanterns. As well as its delicate and atmospheric impact on the general aesthetic and on the landscape, this feature is also extremely practical. In the event of an emergency or sudden illness, the occupants can switch the light emanating from the roof to red, immediately alerting the control centre and becoming instantly visible to the emergency services.
From this point of view, architecture and design acquire added “social” value by facilitating the smooth running of daily life, restoring dignity and self-respect just when people need it most.
This macro-trend breaks down into two concrete manifestations with the micro-trends Grey Power and enabling design.