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Closer to Nature

    Project information

  • What: 

    Dementia is a serious degenerative neurological condition that a ects cognition and memory. Along with the increasing of aging population in modern society, the growing population of seniors su ering from dementia living in a care home indicates a challenge to design natural and pleasant living experience.

    Project Closer-to-Nature aims to combine the natural soothing e ect of nature and the principles of animal therapy to provide an opportunity for those who are not able to leave the care home readily, to feel more connected to nature, in order to provide for a better quality of life. The installation achieves this through a simple tactile interaction;  a water pump that pumps real water to feed the farm animals outside the window (large screen). Due to the low engaging threshold and the simple interaction this installation should be attractive in several stages of dementia.

  • Who: Eindhoven University of Technology; Vitalis Berckelhof; Archipel Eindhoven.
  • When: Feb ‘15 > Oct ’15
  • Where: Eindhoven, Netherlands.


The project aimed to involve the local care facilities, dementia experts and local farms with the purpose of:

• Gain a comprehensive understanding on life style of elderly with dementia;
• Understanding current status and solutions of care service for dementia;
• Gain direct feedbacks from real target user group, as well as the professional feedbacks from care givers and doctors;
• Find opportunities to build a long-term service platform with the cooperation of related organizations and 2 iterations were deployed, based on the cooperation with local care facilities, a pilot test was held in Zorgcentrum Mariënburght and a formal test was conducted in• • • Archipel Eindhoven, involving 12 care givers. The finalised version of the installation was presented in Vitalis Berckelhof during the Dutch Design Week 2015.


These where the following key lessons:

Long-term evaluation Due to the short time span and the temporary experiment environment, it was di cult to reach a solid conclusion on the impacts of the project, while the tactile interaction and animal theme received a lot of positive reactions from care givers and the interest from the management.

Further investigations need to be done to see if this installation has a real positive e ect on the mood of the residents by providing a feeling of connection to nature, which needs to be conducted in a more natural environment in elderly’s daily life and in a long time period.

Coordinate with care givers’ schedule The participation of care givers plays an important role in design intervention of this project. Some of the elderly with dementia may need help to experience the full interaction or be taken care of during the experiencing process, and the reflection of design impacts also relies a lot on the findings according to their professional knowledge and understanding of the residents. However, the heavy schedule for caregivers limits the tasks that can be assembled to them, which indicates a need in re ning the process of long-term field test.

Service and business model A sustainable business model will be needed in future stage for long-term use, since the cost of installation and setting up needs to be controlled at an acceptable level for care institutions, and the content providing and system maintenance also call for the cooperation from farms and technology companies.


Beneficiaries/ Stakeholders: TU/e 1 master student + 2 teachers + 1 PhD; Vitalis Berckelhof 1 project coordinator + care givers; Admieraal Eindhoven; Archipel Eindhoven 12 care givers; Zorgcentrum Mariënburght pilot study; Health 1 dementia expert.

Contact information