ArgumentNo. 13/2021

Memory Anchors in Dementia-Friendly Architecture and the Limits of Spatial Versatility in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic

  • / lecturer PhD arch., “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO
  • / PhD scient. researcher III, biol., „Elias” Emergency University Hospital, Bucharest, RO
  • / PhD. cl. psych., „Elias” Emergency University Hospital, Bucharest, RO
  • / assist. prof. PhD MD, „Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, RO


The current trend of population ageing leads to a significant increase in age-related conditions, including in the number of people with neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) of which Alzheimer's disease being one of the best known cause for NCDs. In this context, dementia-friendly architecture (DFA) / for people with NCDs occurs. The current COVID-19 pandemic brings new challenges in caring for people with NCDs, in maintaining an optimal quality of life and a reasonable well-being, challenges to which architecture can respond through specific architectural tools.

Starting from the limitations that Alzheimer's disease brings, namely from a damaged, ambiguous mental map, sometimes disconnected from reality, superimposed over the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic that often meant the need for more space, whether the elderly are at home or institutionalized, the paper aims to investigate the limits of spatial versatility in dementia-friendly architecture.

The study focuses on the concept of "memory anchor" transposed into the DFA for people with NCDs through the constant need for spatial stability, routine and benchmarks. This paper investigates interdisciplinary, both in the case of home care and in institutionalized centers, the relationship between two types of multifunctionality: by merging-concomitance and by polyvalence-adaptability. The exploratory interview with open-ended questions is used as a research method.

DFA emphasizes user safety and comfort, compensating for memory deficits and temporal-spatial orientation, and managing affective and behavioral symptoms such as agitation, depression, or anxiety. Stability, spatial inertia in relation to function is a priority, versatility as a process remaining rather subordinate. The COVID-19 pandemic and the recommended physical / social distancing have often led to the need to restrict activities in a private area and thus to the need for versatility at home or in the institutionalized older person's accommodation unit.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for DFA can be managed through an interdisciplinary approach.

Keywords: dementia-friendly architecture, memory anchor, spatial versatility, quality of life, COVID-19 pandemic, interdisciplinarity

Published in Argument 13/