A Kwantlen Polytechnic University student’s idea to repurpose a sailing centre as an Alzheimer’s care home has seen him named one of 100 future design grads to watch.
Paul Charowsky's modern sleek design, part of a third-year mid-term project, caught the eye of Metropolis Magazine, who named him one of the 100 future architecture and design graduates of 2021.
“It’s a super nice feeling. I’m gratified that someone appreciated my work,” says Charowsky, who is taking the Interior Design degree at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.
Of the 100 students Metropolis Magazine featured, only 50 were undergrads from North America like Charowsky.
Charowsky created a concept that repurposed a sailing centre by the water in Kitsilano into an Alzheimer’s care home. It was a group project that branched off into solo projects.
He visited care homes to research what they were like and what was missing.
“It helps so much actually going to these homes as well and kind of experiencing what it could be just walking through it and, unfortunately, feeling unhappy walking through it,” he says.
The other students and Charowsky used Vancouver landmarks, like the Jericho Sailing Centre, for inspiration so that patients would still feel connected to their neighbourhoods and communities.
Charowsky designed a café in the reception area of the home. He had to keep in mind the health, safety and quality of care at the care home, not only to protect the residents but enhance their quality of life.
“Instead of going out of the way to meet someone, you’re just going to a café within the place you live,” he says. “If a resident comes there they can get coffee but if a family comes there, they can be directed to their family that way.”
Wilson School of Design instructor Paola Gavilanez told Charowsky to apply to Metropolis.
“It’s a different way of looking at senior care design,” says Gavilanez. “It’s completely outside the box but it has a deeply rooted research component behind it. And I think as designers one of the things we strive to do is improve people’s quality of life.
“Paul and our students are able to develop deep empathy for who will be using the space. And how do you develop deep empathy for somebody who has Alzheimer’s without having Alzheimer’s or know someone who has Alzheimer’s is by doing deep research.”
The program, she says, is an interior architectural degree, not just a design degree, which means students need to know building codes, fire codes, sustainable design, which walls are load-bearing and much more when creating projects.