Devereux Architects completes mental health unit designed to improve patient wellbeing
A new mental health unit which aims to improve patient wellbeing through its architectural design has been completed by Devereux Architects.
Sunflowers Court, located in Essex, UK was commissioned by North East London NHS Foundation Trust to provide adult acute, older persons, low secure and detox facilities in a new building with shared therapy services.
At a time when the effectiveness of buildings in all sectors is such a prevalent issue in the architectural media, it seems pertinent that this £25m project responds sensitively to the complex requirements of mental health care provision and also to its Metropolitan Open Land site. Devereux Architects was given the significant task of improving the existing healthcare provision by creating therapeutic environments that lift the spirits. A key requirement was to design a building which assisted in helping patients feel at ease, diminishing stress and reducing the length of patient stay.
To meet the brief, Devereux Architects optimised fenestration to make the most of views onto the central green and to maximise daylight; internal spaces are top lit on the upper storey and all wards have direct access to fresh air. Centralised day spaces are open plan to provide a modern and airy environment.
Externally, the ground floor wards have their own gardens and the two first floor wards have access to secure rooftop terrace areas, called ‘outside rooms'. Playfully rendered colour panels have been added to the exterior to help visually break up the mass of the building and assist way-finding for patients and visitors.
The new buildings represent a rationalisation of core clinical facilities on the larger Goodmayes Hospital site and are co-located with the existing Chapters House, a mental health unit also designed by Devereux Architects and completed in 2002.
With Chapters House, the new Sunflowers Court completes a circular plan which encloses a central ‘village green'. This creates a tranquil, therapeutic space which can also be viewed from the circular linking corridor of the shared facilities, giving access to each individual ward. This creates a constant reference point which helps orientation and way-finding throughout the building.
Mark Carter, Project Director at Devereux Architects commented: "We have designed a building with patient wellbeing and recovery foremost in our minds, endeavouring to create an environment that, whilst safe and secure, caters for the choice of individuals. This can be smaller, intimate and quiet areas for reading or larger open spaces that are fun and stimulating."
The completed project provides a 15-bed low secure ward, a 16-bed tier four detoxification ward, a 20-bed older persons ward, a 20-bed male inpatient ward and a 20-bed female inpatient ward. In addition to patient facilities, the unit also provides clinical and administration support facilities, facilities management and an Energy Centre with a ground source heat pump.
The project has achieved a BREEAM Very Good rating, in line with Devereux Architects' reputation as a leader in environmentally responsible architecture. Technical specifications on the project have been selected to incorporate the latest thinking in mental health care, including state-of-the-art resin sanitary ware with wave sensor controls, anti-ligature ironmongery and light fittings.
Architect: Devereux Architects; Contractor: Kier London; Healthcare Planner: Niche Consulting; Structural Engineer: PEP; Services Engineer: AECOM; Planning Consultant: Drivas Jonas; Landscape Design: Standerwick Land Design.