Desert rose blooms for dementia

Thursday, 4th January, 2018

TEAM EFFORT - How the Desert Rose sustainable dementia-friendly house will look when complete.

STUDENTS in Wollongong have started work on a sustainable dementia-friendly house that is set to change the way older people live.

The Desert Rose is a student-designed and built house designed to create a supportive, welcoming environment for people living with dementia and other age-related disabilities.

The project is a collaboration between TAFE NSW Wollongong and University of Wollongong. TAFE NSW trades students build the house working alongside the university students who will advise on the practical applications of the design.

The house - which takes its name from the flower that flourishes in challenging environments - will be entered in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, an international design and construction competition that focuses on sustainability.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the challenges associated with living with dementia often mean people need to move out of their home at the most vulnerable time in their life.

The house's building plans are underpinned by a set of design principles developed by University of Wollongong's dementia care expert Professor Richard Fleming. The project is based on Professor Fleming's work with the elderly for more than 30 years, as well as innovations developed at the university's Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC).

Throughout the design phase, the students have been working closely with local aged care providers and the Dementia Training Australia group to ensure designs meet the changing needs of occupants.

"The design aims to change the way the world views homes for the elderly with a house that is architecturally inspiring, celebrates life and demonstrates a house that is adaptable to an ageing person's needs," said Project Manager Clayton McDowell.

"It will reduce the stress placed on health services by including state-of-the-art design that supports independent living for occupants living with age-related disabilities and diseases including dementia.

Innovative heating, ventilation and an air-conditioning system that uses solar cooling technology and takes advantage of passive design will enable the home to be comfortable and sustainable, even in the heat of the Middle East.

The Desert Rose will be designed and built in Wollongong before being disassembled and shipped to Dubai to be reconstructed over a 10-day period in November as part of the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018.

Following the competition the house will be shipped back to Australia, rebuilt, and put on display at University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus.

Team UOW hope to make it two in a row after winning the Solar Decathlon China 2013 with the multi-award-winning Illawarra Flame House.

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