Many of our designers started as students at NewSchool of Architecture & Design. Some of our staff taught at NewSchool, and we have a long history of taking on NewSchool interns. We’re proud to announce that Emad Abdulwajid, our most recent NewSchool intern, is now our newest full-time staff member!
Emad just completed his senior thesis, and it’s a great example of why we think so highly of both Emad and NewSchool.
Emad’s thesis imagined an architectural plan for a memory care facility tailored to Indian immigrants.
From a design perspective, memory care facilities in the U.S., according to Emad, “usually cater to the culture they’re in, but the U.S. is a melting pot.”
People of other cultures are not immune to memory loss, but family members don’t feel comfortable housing their loved ones in a residential environment that doesn’t feel familiar.
Emad drew from personal experience. One of his family members is experiencing dementia, and Emad noticed that this loved one was more comfortable while visiting India, where he grew up.
“A lot of memory loss patients revert back to a childlike sense and what they grew up with is more familiar,” said Emad.
To inform his design, Emad relied on research journals and case studies. He also reviewed photos he had taken on trips to India and identified the commonalities between the architecture of different villages. He even conducted feedback interviews with stakeholders representing his target audience.
He designed a dense, compact village that pulled in defining points of Indian architecture by using distinctive window design, apertures, screening systems, roof tiles and more.
His design was well received by his professors. They encouraged him to push the Indian details and architectural language even further if he ever has the chance to bring this unique idea to fruition.
Emad would welcome the opportunity. Substantial growth in demand for memory care facilities is projected in the U.S. in the next 10 years. Moreover, culturally grounded design could help overcome the cultural stigma felt by many third world immigrants about putting their parents in care facilities.
“We need to offer a better sense of the life they want and that they remember,” said Emad.
Emad spent two quarters of his last school year developing his thesis project, but we think the idea will have relevance for years to come. For any senior living developers out there, we have a great architectural firm in mind for a culturally centric memory care project (hint, hint), and you know who will be on that team!