DSDC News

By Henriette Laidlaw

October 3rd, 2016

We have expanded our design team

Architect Martin Quirke has joined our design team

The importance of design and architecture for reducing disability in people who live with dementia has never been so high on the agenda of care providers.  At the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University we have research that shows which basic principles make a difference to how independent people can be, and translating that research into action is the next big challenge.

Our design team has been strengthened by the addition of Martin Quirke. Martin's 20 years' experience in architecture has been divided between Australia, Ireland and the UK. He is a graduate of both Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology, and is close to completing a PhD on design for dementia from University of Newcastle (Australia).

Having worked across a broad spectrum of project types, from housing to public buildings, Martin's strongest area of expertise is design for ageing, especially residential aged care communities.  In professional practice, university teaching, and research, he promotes both sustainable and inclusive design. He previously built his own house, unobtrusively incorporating both passive sustainable design, and dementia design principles. With its fresh modern design, few people realise the future proofing, resource saving, and enabling design that the house contains  - Martin advocates that this is how good design should be! 

Determined to expand design for cognitive and age-related impairment beyond its traditional domain of care environments and out into the wider community, Martin is adamant that design provision for dementia enablement should be incorporated into all physical environments. We already do this for people with physical impairments, such as those in wheelchairs, so it's about time that all of our homes, streets, shops, theatres, and other public spaces become enabling and inclusive for people with cognitive impairment.

Martin's PhD research indicates that early consideration of dementia design principles can have a significant impact on the cognitive accessibility of buildings. In particular, his analysis of building floor-plan layouts suggests that the overall dementia-enabling quality of the final building can be heavily influenced  by even the earliest design sketches. He expects to complete this research in 2017.