Architecture touches everyone’s lives in so many ways that mental or physical incapacity is no barrier to appreciating good design. People who suffer such conditions, however, have different conceptions; the buildings which house them must be equally serviceable for staff and welcoming for relations as they are comforting for residents.

The sloping site with superb views suggested a free-standing country house form. Set around a central courtyard, the building sits on a levelled 'plate' which is clearly demarcated from the rest of the gardens. Entrances at the corners make the plan efficient. 

The three upper floors, each with forty residents, are arranged as homes, with their own communal sitting and dining rooms. The bed-sitting rooms, with en-suite showers, are laid out around a continuous corridor, which has windows in the diagonal corners so that daylight penetrates into the heart of the building. The ground floor accommodates the shared facilities around the courtyard - physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, recreational therapy, a cafe, hairdressing shop and a synagogue, as well as kitchen, laundry and offices.

The building's appearance is as easy to understand as its plan. Bay windows in the brick walls of the upper floors mark each bedroom, and give residents a comfortable window seat. The ground floor expresses its different status; on the outside timber panels infill between the concrete structure, leaving an arcade under the cantilevered edge of the first floor, picked up by steel trusses. On the inside, the landscaped courtyard is surrounded by continuous glazing.

Details

  • Location London, United Kingdom
  • Value £9.8 million
  • Size 6,500 m²
  • Client Community Trading Ltd
  • Year 1996

Selected Awards

  • Brick Award: Runner-Up