Architect Doeke Meintema was the winner of the competition held in 1914 to design a retirement home in Hilversum. In this design, the houses are arranged around several internal courtyards, giving the impression of groups of almshouses. All the communal facilities and living spaces are on the ground floor. One of the living spaces was intended as a dormitory for women in need of care. The residents slept in multi-occupation dormitories, with separate accommodation for men and women.
Communal dormitories were common in retirement homes for many decades. Here the dormitories were intended only for those residents in need of care, but in many other retirement homes able-bodied residents also slept in shared rooms. As in hospital wards, the beds were placed alongside each other. There was little privacy: each individual space comprised a chair and cabinet for personal belongings next to the bed. After the Second World War, such communal dormitories were quickly replaced by individual rooms.