Building design and architecture

Anew chapter for charity founded by Anna Freud

A mental healthcare charity first established almost 70 years ago by Anna Freud, one of the founders of child psychoanalysis, is soon to re-locate from various ageing residential properties in Hampstead to a new purpose-built facility near London’s King’s Cross, designed by architects, Penoyre & Prasad. As The Network’s editor, Jonathan Baillie, reports, the new building combines a six-storey new-build with the refurbishment of a century-old former chocolate factory and warehouse. Opening in early 2019, the building will also house a free school and a variety of clinical and research facilities.

The entity that was later to become the Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families was founded in 1947 by psychoanalyst, Anna Freud, the sixth and youngest child of world- renowned neurologist and psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. Today the charity that bears Anna Freud’s name says that her ‘tradition of constant innovation, research, and care, for the most vulnerable young minds’ is still embedded in its work. Born in 1895, Anna Freud followed the path of her famous father, and contributed significantly to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Melanie Klein, she is also considered to have been among the founders of psychoanalytic child psychology.

LONDON BASE ESTABLISHED After the Freud family were forced to leave Vienna for London in 1938 with the advent of the Nazi regime, Anna Freud resumed her psychoanalytic practice and her pioneering child psychology work in England. The war had given her the opportunity to observe the effect of deprivation of parental care on children, and in 1941 she established ‘The Hampstead War Nurseries’. This was located at the house she had moved into on emigrating from Austria – 20 Maresfield Gardens in London’s Hampstead, where young children, a number of whom had been made homeless by bombing, received foster care. Six years later – in 1947 – she launched the Hampstead Child Therapy Course. In 1951, having been granted charity status, the Hampstead Clinic opened at nearby 12 Maresfield Gardens, to provide training in child psychoanalysis, a child and adolescent clinic, and a place for research. The Clinic subsequently developed strong links with a number of notable academic institutions that continue to this day, including University College London, and Harvard and Yale

Universities in the US. Anna Freud and the Centre’s pioneering child psychoanalysis and treatment work subsequently continued at numbers 12 and 21 Maresfield Gardens, and later also at number 14. Numbers 12-14 became the charity’s headquarters, where it remains today. The charity was re-named the Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families following Anna Freud’s death in 1982.

21ST-CENTURY GOALS The charity’s website says its overriding goal today is ‘to transform current mental health provision in the UK by improving the quality, accessibility, and effectiveness of treatment’. Bringing together ‘leaders in neuroscience, mental health, social care, and education’, it aims ‘to improve understanding

Anna Freud in 1957.

and practice, and develop, disseminate, and deliver, the best possible evidence-based treatment through scientific innovation, research, and collaboration, underpinned by the direct experience and insight of children and their families’. Central to its approach is that ‘every child and their family should be at the heart of the care they receive, working in partnership with professionals’. This tenet is at the heart of the design, by London-headquartered architects, Penoyre & Prasad, for the charity’s new headquarters now taking shape close to King’s Cross Station.

A model of the site for the new headquarters of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families, close to London’s King’s Cross.

SIGNS OF WEAR AND TEAR When I met Mark Rowe, Penoyre & Prasad partner and lead project architect, he explained: “While the three Edwardian houses in Hampstead that house many of the charity’s key functions have served the Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families well, the management and board felt the organisation needed a new home, offering 21st-century design and facilities, which could also bring together all the clinical, non-clinical, and administrative functions currently undertaken in the three Hampstead houses, as well as at a number of other locations.” The new £36 million Anna Freud Centre will combine a striking six- storey glass-fronted new building with an extensive refurbishment of a former chocolate factory that was built in around 1915, and has most recently been used as offices.


©Penoyre & Prasad

©Dutch National Archives CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

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