The Hearth of Paradoxos-Topia

A new typology of elderly care homes in Jordan and the region.
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Designer(s) : Shahd Farran

University : The University of Jordan

Tutor(s) : Prof. Wael AlAzhari

At the centre of the home, the hearth provides warmth, light, food, and protection. Symbolizes love, a home where everyone gathers. Paradoxes, as an adjective means contrary to expectations. And Topia is an affix meaning place. They are coming together to form a new typology of elderly care homes in Jordan and the region.


Care homes are designed for older people who require a higher level of support than that which can be provided in their own homes. The term ‘care home’ describes communal accommodation that offers personal and medical care. There are various types of older people’s housing, varying in the level of care provided in each. Because Jordan and the Arab region lack such classifications for elderly care facilities, UK standards were referenced.

Residential care homes are considered non-medical facilities. Hence, they don`t have specialized units like dementia. The hearth of Paradoxos-topia is a residential care home located in Amman, Jordan.

Ageing Gracefully

There are 12 elderly care homes in Jordan, with a total of 627 beds. While very little information is available on the elders and their status, almost all of the research that exists are warning signs on the residents’ physical, mental, and emotional health. The hearth of Paradoxos-topia seeks to achieve graceful ageing for its residents through the principles of behavioural architecture and evidence-based design applied with the consideration of the local environments, physical and social. (See Diagrams)

An approach

that explores the following dialects:

Part vs. Whole.

Conception vs. Perception.

Human vs. Nature.

Soul vs. Body.

Artificial vs. Natural.

Identifying differences is not intended to delineate opposites or create a demarcation used to keep the ‘other’ at bay. Rather, by studying hybridity, it becomes possible to identify a space between opposites since the production of hybridity occurs in an interstitial and formative zone that does not merely hold a space between two contrasting elements but instead disturbs, disorders, deconstructs, and ultimately reconstructs those opposing forces. This gives rise to Bhabha’s use of the term third space: a zone that disturbs the binaries and hierarchies that uphold power, yet that does not erase or resolve difference into a new totalizing or homogeneous ideology.

The term is further explored by Henri Lefebvre and Edward W. Soja, who both use the term spatial trialectic to understand the difference between perceived space (a given or literal space that is inhabited and perhaps taken for granted), conceived space (a representation of space formed in the mind), and lived space (the resultant space that emerges from the combination of perceived space and conceived space, or how the world is versus how we imagine it to be).

The binaries mentioned manifest in architecture via an interplay between straight lines and curves, between edges and fillets, fine lines and blurred lines. An exploration of the form and quality of lines. While taking into consideration the slope of the site, quality of spaces, and exposure to natural elements. architecture as a tool for wayfinding and communications.

Putting it all Together

The issue of elderly care homes is a delicate matter rarely discussed, and it’s a problem, a product of a system, social influence- or the lack thereof-, and architecture. While this project proposes a new typology of care homes, it’s to be said that architecture alone can’t carry the load. It should be a collaborative effort between lawmakers, the community, and architects. It’s also to be stated that the issue of care homes isn’t merely an issue of poor facilities and old structures; it is a problem of segregating and outcasting weak members of the society into these bad reputation facilities with no sense of home whatsoever, hence elders losing the will to be active and productive. For that reason, an external model, no matter how successful, cannot be adopted. Rather, a new typology needs to emerge from the womb of the Jordanian society, elders, values, and perceptions.

The Hearth of Paradoxos-topia(THoPt) acts as a conceptual device that seeks to disrupt and critically implode the bases upon which ‘difference’ has been outcasted by society as well as the current social and cultural narratives dominant in the everyday. It’s a project of decolonization – a theoretical approach to literary studies that centre on the legacy of global asymmetries of power—and investigates its formal expression in architecture. THoPt Is an un-institutionalized care home designed for residents accompanied by research findings. Influenced by the postcolonial theory of hybridity set by Homi K. Bhabha, THoPt acts as a third space for elders to explore. Immersed in nature, It is a community on its own while being cynical in its form to the system’s rigidness. It aims to change both its residents and the rest of society’s perspective about care homes and how they should look.