URBAN MESH WITH OR WITHOUT SENIORS?- Background for universally designed living units for senior citizens in FlorøBy Harald BRYNLUND-LIMA, architect studentSOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY SEMINAR, DIPLOMA PROJECT BERGEN SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, FEBRUARY-SEPTEMBER 2011
The curriculum for getting to be a proper architect at the school in Bergen includes a strong focus on social anthropological methods and theories.I find this focus and emphasis in the beginning of a architecture project a personally very rewarding approach. It also resonnates back from the earlierarchitecture projects at the Bergen School of Architecture and the concepts of its curriculum.My present architecture project aim at investigating and to further understand the relation between a small scaled housing situation for senior citizens in Florøand the contemporary urban structures, built and unbuilt. I have a principal sceptical approach to the institutionalized housing structures for the senior citizens.I visited Florø very early in the diploma project period between February and September 2011. I took a boat up already at Tuesday the 8th of February.Here I met, discussed and experienced some of the situations for senior citizens in the town of Florø.In this text I will go briefly through the background of institutional welfare and the present situation in Florø.I also want to show that institutional welfare got fragmented into smaller architectural units. These insights I will put together with the insights gained atfieldwork over 2 days in Florø in February 2011. Together this will assist me to discuss the hows and whys on senior citizens and Florø downtown.The findings from this excursion are already at play in my ongoing development of analysis and concept.This info will be brought into this paper further into the discussion.Let me first employ some historical facts on the fragmentation of institutional welfare. This insight is fundamental for the concept of my project, hence importantfor the means of social anthropology in my project.
A BRIEF OUTLINE OF NORWEGIAN INSTITUTIONAL WELFAREFirst, it is interesting to have a look at the history behind institutionalized welfare. Often, the start of the «welfare state» is heralded to the great PM Gerhardsenof the decades after WW2.This could be true for the current scheme and scale of institutional welfare. But lets dig deeper. I find it particularly interesting to find out when the mindset andjudicial framework originated. When reading the book by architect Tore Brantenberg, he shows that welfare as we know it, in a Nordic context could come fromthe first industrial ventures in Eastern Norway. The King Christian 4th wanted to secure The Denmark-Norway Kingdom mining after precious metals. Afterthe Thirty Years War in 1624 AD he made the ground for the first industrial efforts for metals. Obviously, before any automating technology – this demandedmanpower. Hence, the entrepreneurs behind the mines in often desolated areas - offered housing, firewood/fuel as part of the salary to attract and keep workers(Brantenberg 1996)Then, lets leap to the century closer to our time. The institutional welfare developed after parliamentary politics came to light. When people got to vote, got toinfluence the state – they also wanted to use the state and its goods (Berg 2011). The aim from authorities and from individuals was to secure and enhanceeveryday life and upbringing. A part of this spectacle was also caring for the senior citizens. Traditionally this was taken care of by the large family household.But the industrialization processes in Norway in the 1800s fragmented this traditional solution when young couples moved to urban situations looking for jobs.The housing of senior citizens developed in scale as the decades passed. And according to Marit Kirkevold, religious organisations were the first to take on thetask of building specific hospitals or housing situations for the senior citizens that were poor or widowed (Kirkevold 2011). The present scale and level of insti-tutional welfare comes from the decades after WW2. The former prime minister of Norway Einar Gerhardsen led different social-democratic governments thatworked for transforming Norway into a welfare society. This shift was greatly assisted by the US Marshall Plan/European Recovery Plan and the trade with otherindustrialized countries in similar Post WW2 contexts.
One crucial and cordial concept underlying a welfare state is supporting the individual that needs it. In this context I have looked at the existing housingtypology for senior citizens in the context of the Norwegian welfare state. The Gerhardsen governments built up a range of public goods, one category isinstitutions established to take care of the senior citizens.What housing services does the state and local authorities offer for the individuals of high age that are in need? For the sake of the argument, I want to call itinstitutionalized welfare. And how to define this? In the article “Omsorgens arkitektur”/”The Architecture of Caring” the author Inger-Lise Saglie utilizes theconcepts of physical and organizational institution by sociologist Dag Østerberg to convey the width of the notion “Institution”. She also speaks about the differ-ent connection housing typologies has to society. The residence is integrated in the local society, the institution is segregated from the same local society(Daatland 2008).One aspect is the aim behind the built-up structure. Is it a home? Is it a hospital? Something in between. Furthermore, it is connected to built scale. And also theinterior situations versus the exterior situations. Institution is the object of fragmentation architecturally speaking – and its interesting for me also consideringsocial anthropology. In the next section, I will explain how the shifting scales of institutions regarding senior citizens have manifested itself through the latestdecades.
THE SHIFT OF SCALE IN INSTITUTIONAL WELFARE FOR SENIOR CITIZENSThe built institutions came about in the early decades after 1900. Then the institutions were often connected to a trade, for instance “Old Sailors Home”. After theSecond World War, the construction of the welfare state started. Caring for senior citizens was now guaranteed. The concept of pension for everyone was estab-lished. After working for many, many years – the state gave you time off and money.The authorities built up larger buildings to accommodate the old people. In the latest decades, these structures have physically and organization-wise been frag-mented into smaller units. With smaller units I mean smaller apartment clusters, stand-alone apartments with ambulant nurse support or reinterpretedinstitutional buildings with a somewhat more diversified program, site or plan design.The contemporary picture we have of institutional welfare is pretty diversified and have a varying degree of connection to the local environment. Lets first seewhat an institution building is. I have been reading texts by a couple of authors that go into this issue.Saglie discusses this in the earlier mentioned article. Here she lies out 4 architectural principles that institutions utilize and are known for. First, institutions areoften at a site outside the dense built-up area, outside a town centre. “The ideal was rural and peaceful surroundings” (Daatland 2008:281). The next principlesis large buildings with a specific “public sector -look”, just like the town hall, the fire station and the school buildings. Saglie also notes the specific uniform orstandard use of materials, often connected to fire prevention regulations. This gives the interiors a certain fixed design which signals “non-private” or“non-residential”. Corridors are the last of the 4 principles that describe institution architecture, and they are specially prevalent because it is a area efficient meanto connect many rooms in a large building (Daatland 2008).
These insights into institutional welfare, the architecture language of the caring authorities carry a couple of paradoxes. The obvious is that the individual seniorcitizens are living at a institution, but the institution building is not treating the inhabitants like individuals. The institution can hardly be a home – or how can itbe a home?This problematic raises a couple of interesting aspects of “Caring Architecture”. The most evident would be the layout, the size, the detailing and the material useof the rooms where the seniors are residing/staying for a while. Another aspect might be the design and usage of the common facilities, for instance, theliving room in a department inside an institutional building. In the articles by Saglie, Daatland, Hauge and Jacobsen I grasp that the architecture ofcontemporary institutions to a certain extent have developed a diversified and sound organization of space internally in the institutions through the latest years(Daatland 2008, Hauge 2010, Jacobsen 2010).But as Jacobsen points out, the architecture seems to have a strong organizational and internal focus. The sense of place, use of place specific qualities are notparticularly prevalent (Jacobsen 2010). Often the building is of high architectural quality on the interior, but that is not evident on the streetscape or the relationbetween built and unbuilt at the site. This is sad, but I understand it also as a part of a mindset governing the design of institutions. The mindset I claim is con-nected to the efficiency and and structure characterized by Erving Goffmans concept of “Total Institutions” or Michel Foucaults famous “Panopticon”.Of course, the contemporary institutional welfare have developed along a path from it, but still relate and connect to it. And this might be of some importance,because the aim of caring implies a transmission of control of self. When an individual is in need for care, this fact is also connected to the degree of controll ofself.The title of this chapter is “shift of scale”. The institutions developed in the latest 30 years into somewhat fragmented of a whole, both seen as within the builtunit but also into other built units. Perhaps seen from a distribution angle, from one big mothership into smaller units in a network. The development here is apositive development. Institutionalized care is not the solution for everyone, but many are relating to these places because of illness and weakness connected tocoming-of-age. A very large portion of the senior citizen population are living in a private home and they get assistance when needed from nurses dispatchedfrom the municipality health service. Now, I will go into some info on Florø and discuss wether the senior citizens of Florø can use the town, or how they use it.
WHAT IS FLORØ TODAY?The contemporary picture of Florø is colored by the two biggest businesses. The oil base and its 151 year rich legacy as a port for fish. The oil base is a relativelynew phenomenon in this small town. Norway discovered oil offshore city of Stavanger at the 23rd of December in 1969. In Florø the oil business came to townby establishing the base “Fjord Base” in 1985.Florø was the biggest and for a long time also the only town in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. In the decades after WW2 Florø fought many political battleswith its now big brother city Førde, established more inland. Førde won the county hospital in 1979 and together with the large Ankerløkken yard relocating andaiming at Førde, Florø lost 2 big locomotives for economic growth.To understand Florø, it is advisable to see it in comparison with Førde 1,5 hour drive away. These two cities have developed in a tandem pattern in the 1900s.After reading up on both towns and the county in general, I see that they differ in economic focus and strategy. Present-day Florø has a clear external or coastaland industrial strategy. But people here are annoyed by the status Førde has gained as retail shopping destination for Western Norway in general. Perhaps Florøaims at the resources at the sea and Førde aims at internal resources, personal credit cards and non-sustainable consumerism?This issue has 2 sides. At first, it is easy to see that Førde is more attractive, because they have all the fancy shops and the downtown is designed around caraccess. Florø, on the other hand – actually creates much more wealth per capita, because the taxation, other income and general synergy from the oil industry.This raises the average way over the income per capita in Førde.Sadly, this important fact is pretty hard to convey, in a mental climate that is affected much by branding, advertisements and visual impressions. To put it likethis, the value that industry has to Florø is not so vivid or clear for the local population, perhaps because they care more about retail shopping and satisfyingeveryday needs. The vendors can deliver it instantly, and have free parking.
The town centre of Florø is very charming in some way, but it can also appear quite opposite. The town was founded in 1860 and some areas close to the princi-pal street Strandgaten are listed and protected by the national authorities for cultural heritage. The small town, 151 years old – is wonderful to look at, but hard touse for pedestrians, retail shopping entrepreneurs and when it is bad weather. When Florø is on the coast, bad weather occurs pretty often.This environment poses challenges when economic development solely and only aim at retail shopping. I get the impression when talking to people in Florø thatthe most important for the people with “ideas” is to “tear down the old shit” and adapt town centre for car traffic with “lets get a proper parking building”. This issad – because good places and spaces are obtained by designing and adapting for people, not for cars. But also,I truly understand the business owners. Because its challenging to transform old buildings serving merely 100-300 sq.meters into built situations that can createqualities instead of quantities. Just like the shopping centres of Førde.In this situation, I find it interesting to focus on the senior citizens of Florø. Housing conditions for senior citizens in Florø are perhaps marginalized. The smalltown is the most expensive place to buy a piece of real estate in all of the county. If this fact is coupled with the bad place Florø downtown is, this clearly affectsthe elderly.I claim bad place – because it has a shortage of attractions within walking distance. The physical surroundings around the principal street Strandgata or themunicipality service centre is not important enough for a range of services. Why do they place the local high school way off town centre? Why are their nokindergardens in the downtown? Its good because its looks good. But it is bad because its not enough to look good, its what inside what count.
HOW IS FLORØ FOR SENIOR CITIZENS?While in Bergen, I developed a couple of “breaking the ice” questions for a short talk with senior citizens of Florø. I also printed 30 copies of 2 maps of the towncentre. Initially, I planned to leave a bunch of maps and come up and get them at a later stage – but I quickly realized that the hands-on, direct approach at a cafeor in the streets could pay more off.In this trip up to Florø I had a couple of things to do. I wanted to talk to the senior citizens and I wanted to spread the happy message of an architect studentin-town to the local newspaper. What was intriguing, and indeed give me fuel – was the response that the online article on me received. After only an afternoon,21 comments where made on the headline “Florø needs a college”. This headline was just to get some attention on the wonderful downtown and to awaken thefeeling of pride – and action.I visited Florø in 2009 as well, so when I came, I had some knowledge on where to go. I walked up to the “Havglytt” municipality senior centre. Here I met withold ladies painting porcelain and knitting socks. After this I visited the “Kafe Kandis” at the local shopping centre downtown. Here I talked with a diverse crowdof elders. I had to overall themes for my chat. First, “where do you live” and “do you want to live in Florø town centre”.After this, I wanted to know how they used the town and its services.The persons who in my enquete and short research who express interest in living in central Florø, cannot.I hear that persons of high age cannot justify the fact of selling a large residential unit outside town centre and then obtaining a more centrally placed living unit.The basis for this is rooted in the mentioned high level of real estate in Florø. But also research undertaken by the municipality of Flora show that only 3 out of10 responders want to live in the town centre (Perduco 2010). Is it so that the Florø downtown does not have a strong enough attraction or cluster of attractions?
In addition to the discussion on location preference for living, I also talked with senior citizens on the use of Florø downtown. In my opinion, they barely use thetown. They inhabit one of the local cafes, sitting chatting all day and enjoying each others company. Others relate more to the municipal senior centre, up the hillfrom downtown. Some of the persons I talked to, disliked the place because of the hill. Its hard to get back here from the town centre by the shore and centralstreet Strandgata because of the hill.In my diploma project, a fundamental and very important focus is universal design. This paradigm in architecture and urban planning implies the design forhuman diversity, for everyone and the someones. In practice this means that design should be aiming at satisfying the ability to be an individual. A strongbackground for me to believe in further fragmenting the institution is rooted in the fact that one answer for many persons is not a good answer. Its actually notadequate either. The institution aims at being a home for many different individuals. How does that work?Solveig Hauge performed an important study in 2004. In the study “Jo mere vi er sammen, jo gladere vi blir?”/”The more together we are, the more happy weare?” - she tackles among other themes, the issue of common space in retirement homes/institutional welfare.Her critique is that being together in a room is actually a very complex and could also be an intense experience. Her analysis of the common space testify thatwhen the staff are not present in these rooms, there is a communication breakdown between the residents of that department. Often some of the seniors actuallyretreat to their private room and hence strengthen their private everyday life (Hauge 2004). This clearly corresponds with Goffmans concept of “front stage” and“back stage”. Goffman explains with this dichotomy that every person are in crucial need of both public space and private space. He relates the social acts to thetheatre act, with “putting on a show” and “preparing” (Goffman 1972).The institution is not for everyone. This is clear. But the town of Florø is not for everyone either. Living in the town centre is to expensive and not attractive to thegeneral mass of people or specifically senior citizens. Sad it is, actually a catch22. What to tackle first?
I believe that the public space and specifically the downtown of Florø can cater as a living room for everyone, in just that way institutions cannot. Hauge foundout that the aim of creating a confined, physical surrounding that should cater for everyone – is not possible. Here the urban sphere can service and be a richerenvironment. In the street you can be seen (“front stage”) and not seen (“back stage”). The urban downtown are very important places because they offerfilthering of impression and participation.And here Florø has a challenge! The small town is very charming, but why should I go there? I will have to drive around, because any of the services (Publicoffices, library, state outlet of wine and liquors, bus station etc.) are barely within walking distance. And there are not so many people in the streets. This is ofcourse connected to climatic realities, but are also a testament to the two facts, lack of attractions within walking distance and also lack of amenities forpedestrians. Where could people sit in the sunshine to read the newspaper, play chess or where could children touch and the sea?If we students around 25-35 are individuals – think of seniors peaking the 70 year old and further. Aren´t they even more individuals? Should not they be treatedas individuals, not only spatially/residentially speaking, but also in an urban setting? Connect this to the Florø need for life in the town centre. I sincerely believethat the urban situation of Florø would gain from having attractions and homes also for senior citizens in the very downtown. They would surely activize thestreets, by basically being there when everyone is inside the offices or at school.The aim for planning and making building projects in Florø have to aim at making places. Not making something nice, but something that works! In a goodlecture from YouTube, geographer and planner Fred Kent shows lots of examples on beautiful buildings that look good – but do not create good places(Kent 2008).This is also connected to the aim of universal design, its important to design and adapt physical surroundings for everyone – not only make it look good. Thevisual appearance of architecture is surely having its hegemony over other senses. Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa shows in the book “Eyes of the Skin” howbuilt and physical surroundings relate not only to the eyes – but actually to the whole body! This insight also reconnects back to important insights fromGoffman. In the concepts “territory of self ” he describes different zones for territorial claims.
And these borders indicate a personal use of space. Then the physical surrounding, the living rooms or the streets should be designed to cope with this.Then good places and welcoming atmosphere for people and wealth might emerge.Its important to show respect to other persons and adapt for human diversity and richness. At the present, I see that Florø have some challenges in making ahealthy, sustainable and lively town centre. This can surely be tackled and dealt with by introducing 2 strategies.- Make places- Get people in the placesThese strategies are equally important and can be started at the same time. By making places for people, people come. In the Florø context, in my opinion itsabout making the old town centre with Strandgata more important by putting in more attractors, stronger attractors. In addition to this, people need to live inthe downtown area. And different people, not only the one that could afford to buy a “picture of the fjord view”.Build houses for senior citizens and in the same building, put in a kindergarden!
LITERATURE, PRIMARY SOURCESBerg, Ole T. - «Velferdsstat», article at online encyclopedia «Store Norske Leksikon»http://www.snl.no/velferdsstat at 10th Feb 2011.Brantenberg, Tore - «Sosial boligbygging i Norge 1740-1990» Ad Notam Gyldendal/Husbanken, Oslo 1996Daatland, Svein Olav - «Halve livet – Artikler om aldring og livsløp», Vigmostad & Bjørke, Bergen 2008.Goffman, Erving - «The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life», Penguin Books, Middlesex 1972Hauge, Solveig – «Jo mere vi er sammen, jo gladere vi blir?» Summary at web page«Aldring og helse – Nasjonalt kompetansesenter» (National Unit of Knowledge, Aging and Health), 2004http://websok.mikromarc.no/Mikromarc3/Web/detail.aspx?Unit=6464&db=nkah&Id=6621&SW=Hauge,%20Solveig&SC=FO&LB=TI&MT=0&SU=8709&DG=0&ST=Normal&Browse=1at 15th Feb 2011Jacobsen, Frode F. - «Omsorgens kroppslige og arkitektoniske vilkår: et fokus på kontinuitet fremfor endring i omsorgsarbeid i norske sykehjem», article in «Michael – Publ. Se-ries of The No. Medical Society», Oslo 2010Kent, Fred - «Creating Public Spaces», lecture on video from YouTube 2008http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYqV-PEGHHc on 16th of Feb 2011.Kirkevold, Marit - «Eldreomsorg» article at online encyclopedia «Store Norske Leksikon»http://www.snl.no/.sml_artikkel/eldreomsorg at 9th Feb 2011Hauge, Solveig – «Sykehjemmet – et hjem for syke, eller?», slides online at «Bydel Østensjø, Oslo kommune»http://www.bydel-ostensjo.oslo.kommune.no/getfile.php/bydel%20%C3%B8stensj%C3%B8%20(BOS)/Internett%20(BOS)/Bilder/Undervisningssykehjem/Sykehjemmet%20-et%20hjem%20for%20syke,%20eller.pdf at 15th of Feb 2011Olstad, Finn – «Einar Gerhardsen – utdypning», article at online encyclopedia «Store Norske L..»http://www.snl.no/.nbl_biografi/Einar_Gerhardsen/utdypning at 16th Feb 2011Tingvoll, W og Sæterstrand, T.M. - «Sykehjemmets rolle i fremtidens helsevesen», article at webpage «Tidskrift for Den norske legeforening» (Journal of Norw. Medical Ass)http://www.tidsskriftet.no/?seks_id=1580510 at 15th Feb 2011Perduco - «Befolkningsundersøkelse, Flora kommune 2010», Flora kommune 2010