The Possibility of Community

architects ARTEC Architekten
project Residential Home Olympic Village, Innbruck, Austria
written by Vera Grimmer


Living in one’s own world that is not isolated, but connected with the community can be important and valuable, especially at an older age. Limited mobility directs to contacts in the immediate environment. Although the majority of the elderly would like to live in their own homes until the end, in many cases this is not possible, so public institutions have to replace private homes. They will be able to do so in today's consumer society, which appreciates the liveliness and beauty of youth, only if they do not hide and isolate senior citizens.


We could recall Zumthor's retirement home in the village of Massans near Chur, a facility of small, pleasant scale, integrated into the environment, where private and public spaces are broadly open to the mountain scenery. Friedrich Achleitner wrote about this home: Through the large windows people look into the world they came from. The Olympic Village Retirement Home in Innsbruck, along the northern bank of the Inn River, is of considerably larger scale, but its virtues are similar—the openness of the entire building to the environment, the powerful backdrop of the Northern Range (Nordkette), the high mountains of the Inn Valley, the river and the city. This can give the residents a sense of freedom and ease, despite their subjectively limited capabilities. The architects have been guided by the idea of empathy in attaining a certain comfort of stay, an atmosphere that can at least alleviate the existing dramatic certainty.