The brief was to design high-quality residential care services for people with complex needs such as learning disabilities, autism and mental health disorders.
The Challenges and Design Solutions
Firstly, the site is located in a significant heritage context, surrounded by 18th and 19th-century residential developments. Consequently, this affected the scale of the building and materials to be used. The ACA team worked hand-in-hand with the local conservation and planning officers to come up with an appropriate design solution. For instance, the new care home had to be maximum 2 storeys high and in-keeping with the local context. Therefore, the material selection of the external physical environment took inspiration from the local vernacular, interpreting it in a contemporary style. For example; the materials used are brickwork with flint detailing, oak timber effect weatherboards and natural slate roof tiles.
Secondly, the development is located in a flood risk area where bats and plenty of trees are present. Therefore ACA designed finish floor levels to accommodate any potential risk of flooding. Furthermore, we coordinated supporting information regarding ecology and accommodated the design accordingly. Morever the location of the building was designed to avoid tree root protection areas.
Concerns From Local Residents
Thirdly, at the onset of the development, some of the local community was concerned about the user group. To be proactive, ACA carried out a public engagement session to address any concerns before finalising the designs. By actively listening to the local residents, we were able to offer reassurance by providing more information on the user group. Furthermore a 3D video of what the building would look like in its context helped the residents visualise the new care home.
Balance Between Function and Feel of Design
Fourthly, a significant challenge ACA addressed with the design was the incorporation of healthcare facilities within a homelike setting. That is to say, a design to benefit the well-being and on-going recovery for people where they would feel at home. The layout of the contemporary care home supports individuals in a variety of ways. Spaces designed offer communal areas and self-contained apartments. Carefully-designed gardens encourage sensory experiences and communal interactions for the residents, staff and visitors. Also, the selection of materials inside the contemporary care home significantly help individuals with an association to their homes.
Finally, with the aim of achieving a holistic therapeutic environment within a contemporary home, ACA delivered a design which offers independence, comfort and assistance with way finding.