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I’m half way through my time in NYC. The time has sped by at a startling pace, inducing acute panic and anxiety. What have I achieved? What have I to show for these weeks?! It’s clear that I’m struggling to ‘lean in’ to having time to think, idle and reflect. I have this nagging voice in my head demanding productivity; a number of words written, a set of projects developed, a range of outcomes produced with the idea of deep personal and intellectual transformation (!!!).

I’m know that I should resist, I should give my mind space and time to drift in a new landscape; allowing my thoughts to catch the wind, find serendipitous connections, follow things that capture my imagination. But it’s hard. Maybe I need to meditate or maybe I need to medicate.

One thing I’m currently caught on is the split between reflection and production, moving forwards or looking back. I came to New York with a mission to develop a project (a book) about design education. This has been in the pipeline for years and I’ve not had the time to fully engage. The book will allow me to ‘capitalise’ on the effort, work, time and energy I’ve put into teaching over the last 17 years. I have a hope that it will act as a way to move my thinking on, whilst creating a vehicle to communicate the amazing work that my colleagues and I have achieved at Goldsmiths. It’s my opportunity to shout loudly about what we’ve done, creating a record that I think is important at this point in the history of design education. However, as with most of these moments in my life; capitalising on something that I’m in  prime position to do so, is something I rarely do.

I end up feeling bored by the ideas I’ve already thought, annoyed at the banality of my brain, and with this come the loss of curiosity and excitement. I want to move to new pastures, think new things and imagine a different set of possibilities. This is made worse  because I’m away from teaching and away from Goldsmiths; so the book feels like I’m making a prison for myself. A way to remain in the past.

As I write, Herbie is on a plane, over the Atlantic. A brave boy, flying on his own, heading to me and the promised land of endless pizza and ice-cream. I think his presence will help… or at least distract me from my privileged purgatory (only joking here… being overly dramatic… I’m still loving NYC).

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I’ve had the unfortunate experience of visiting a few care homes recently. My dad has vascular dementia and has needed respite care in a secure unit of a dementia home to recover from an operation.

Beyond the deeply upsetting nature of the homes, I’m fascinated by the architecture and design of the spaces. Here is the home that my dad is currently in:

The building is designed as a loop: internally it feels circular, it allows for a continual semi-cognisant drift. There is something profoundly tragic and almost cruel in allowing people to travel without ever reaching their intended (or impossible) destinations.

It reminded me of Loop Geography and Trap Rooms, the construction of an architecture to pacify and contain, forget and hide. They’ve built a psychological treadmill to allow for constant movement without interruption and restriction.

How are these structures designed? Do they come from an architectural consultation with Dementia experts?

An alternative, is Dementiaville. A dutch care village that constructs a different form of care. Instead of trapping the residents in an immovable now, they transport them to a fictional past. The ethics of this is complicated, but I know one thing, the now is not that great for these people. I wish my Dad was in Dementiaville.