When moving around these bright interiors, future residents’ routes through and around them have been “carefully considered from both a functional and design point of view.” In so doing, the architects placed a strong focus on the inherent challenges faced by the building’s users.

Conscious of the number of wheelchair users in the building, for instance, LOM designed the circulation routes to ‘open out’ and become more generous in key areas. As a simple example, where there are four bedroom doors facing out onto a corridor, those areas have been afforded added space. It was also important to avoid creating a clinical environment; instead the architects put the emphasis on making spaces homely and inviting. “In a building like this, however,” Edd qualifies, “there are some quite onerous clinical and technical requirements, so there was a need to strike a careful balance between those two influences – which were often conflicting.” He continues, commending the team’s collaborative approach: “I think that was one of the biggest challenges during the project, to find that balance, and we spent quite a lot of time with QEF trying to achieve that together.”

SPRING OPENING The centre is set to open in spring 2020

This was of course not the only design consideration necessary for such a challenging typology. “The project is quite unique,” he says, “because QEF provide such highly specialised and personalised care services, which are all tailored around the needs of the individual, with a real focus on residents’ independence. The use of assistive technology in the bedrooms enables each person to have greater control of their personal environment.” As a result, the brief development process and the architect’s design response had to be, and was, underpinned by a “people-first philosophy,” always with the requirements of its service users in mind. Furthering this, the design also incorporates assistive technology in order to develop the charity’s care services. All of the residents’ bedrooms feature intelligent controls for example, which allows users to control their environment using device or voice activated methods. Rushton explains further: “Underfloor heating, lighting, music and TV can all be controlled by the residents using a device or voice activation – even the activation of automatic bedroom doors and window blinds.”


A breath of fresh air Besides all these specialist design considerations, the building also performs well from an environmental perspective. For one, with the building being designed to achieve a BREEAM Very Good sustainability rating, the design as well as build process were environmentally sensitive: “There was an objective to minimise its carbon footprint, and also reduce running costs – so a number of features have been incorporated to that effect, including roof mounted solar panels, stringent air tightness and insulation standards, with heat loss through the building fabric kept to a minimum.”

The design employs a passive approach to building services, as far as this is possible in this context. An example of this is the building’s ability to ‘breathe’ through the incorporation of stack ventilation chimneys at roof level.

These brick forms have been placed above some of the larger spaces such as the dining hall and the physiotherapy gym, and utilise louvres connected to

CO2 sensors. When CO2 levels rise, these louvres automatically open to purge the space.

“They can also be activated by residents,” adds Edd, “it just requires a push of a button and they will open and draw fresh air through these spaces.”

Investing in the future Set to open in Spring 2020, there’s already been “a lot of excitement” around the new care and rehabilitation centre, the architect tells ADF, “especially so now that the building is taking shape.”

He explains that the residents are looking forward to moving into their “new modern and comfortable building,” and are especially interested in the assistive technology employed – overall, says the project’s architect, “it’s been a very positive reaction.”

Looking over the investment as a whole – it being such an unprecedented one for QEF – Edd adds: “Besides all the new functions, the project is giving the charity the opportunity to engage with new supporters, as well as build new relationships with local authorities and other stakeholders.” He concludes: “Ultimately, it’s going to transform QEF’s campus, and enable them to keep delivering expert neuro rehabilitation and personalised specialist care for many more years to come.” 


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