Duggan Morris Architects completes aged care project designed to adapt to future needs
The scheme was delivered as part of Hillingdon LA's rehousing scheme, won in competitive tender by Look Ahead Housing and Care and managed on a day to day basis by Ability Housing Asssociation. An efficiently planned L-shaped building (in plan) providing 122 self-contained residential units, with some semi-communal internal spaces and landscaped external spaces and lawns.
Designed to exacting requirements, the building has been detailed to allow for future flexibility, both in terms of the macro whereby additional units can be installed into open plan internal spaces if required, and the micro where hollow panels above door openings can be removed to allow for the future installation of pulley and winch systems, able to respond to changing requirements of the tenants, as they come and go.
The scheme adopts a long low profile of two asymmetric wings conjoined at right-angles. At the junction of the two wings a clearly identified, recessed main entrance is located with full-height, full-width frameless glass paneling, opening into a double-height void finished in Mustard Yellow.
The external appearance is dominated by brick detailing and terracotta roof tiles, both a soft rust-coloured brown, creating the appearance of a free flowing surface treatment wrapping up over the building and extending out over the surrounding terrace areas and walkways. This elegant but robust skin draws its reference from the nearby Grade II listed ‘Arts and Crafts' Building, but employs a wholly contemporary idiom in which large panels of glass (some incorporated as cantilevered box bays) are set flush into the surface and located in a loose rhythm breaking the mass down.
The junction between wall face and roof is expressed with a continuous recessed gutter, acting as an over-sized shadow gap, which extends up over the gable ends, rendering the roof as a delicately placed cap.
The external landscape treatment, a continuation of the external building palette, extends through the glazed entrance screen into the double-height entrance void as a carpet of quarry tiles, thus providing a robust maintenance free surface.
Being predominantly south-facing, the entrance comes alive as light trickles across tthe face of the tiling, picking out the variations in colour and finish. Above and through the void, swathes of vibrant mustard colours lift the view up into the apex of the roof volume.
The residential units are accessed from a corridor which runs along each wing. The corrridors are single loaded, thus allowing for series of full-height windows along their length facing into the landscape, thus ensuring they are flooded with natural light rather than the typical fluorescent. Each unit, once through the door, is simply furnished with open plan living / kitchen space, a large disabled bathroom and double bedroom. The living rooms and bedrooms are provided with full-height windows, and the upper floors fitted with projecting bays, drawing the tenant out beyond the surface face of the building skin.
In summary, the client, design team and contractor have been working within incredibly restrictive contextual issues, ensuring that the building maintained a constrained but appropriate appearance. Great efforts have been employed by all to deliver a high quality building of lasting durability, in a sector of housing often sidelined and ignored due to its limited architectural potential.