We’re very pleased to see our design for this £14m Extra Care Facility, known as Springfields, come to life and now in use following it’s completion in September 2021.
Overview & Project Brief
Initially receiving an outline planning consent as part of a wider masterplan for a broad mixed-use residential development, this residential care site was released by the mainstream house-builder as part of a Section 106 Agreement.
Our client is an affordable homes provider providing and servicing 18,000 homes in more than 35 local authority areas who saw this Extra Care Facility as their flagship development.
brp architects were appointed an early stage to explore various site option studies to quickly establish the best approach for the siting and massing of the facility, coupled with identifying key views into, and out of the site as well as ensuring its successful integration into its surrounding context.
The project comprises sixty five, one and two bedroom apartments, café, community areas, a hair & beauty salon, associated landscape areas and car parking / service areas.
In order to secure reserved matters planning approval, brp architects worked closely with the Client’s delivery team and the Local Authority’s Planning and Urban Design officers to establish the key criteria that were to become the principal drivers for the design. These consultation processes developed a hierarchy of design considerations as the project brief evolved.
The site’s surroundings comprise of either completed or currently un-designed and un-built new-build accommodation resulting in a unique opportunity not requiring us to respond to particular architectural precedents, allowing the creation of a unique stand-alone facility. Where unbuilt, however, the scale of the context was controlled by the outline planning consent.
The scale of the development is deliberately varied, ranging from 2, 3 and 4-storey, respecting the scale of the surrounding sites, with the four-storey element framing the view into the site, whilst achieving the maximum level of accommodation, ensuring the scheme’s viability.
One of the keys challenges the project faced, was that a number of the surrounding buildings were still to be designed including the future primary school. Similarly, to the north of the site further residential dwellings had been approved by the Local Authority, but not constructed. There was only an existing Healthcare and Retail development to the south and west and Residential to the west of, that offered fixed points of reference for the designs – thereby creating a challenging context for which to respond.
The design team modelled the un-built context as accurately as possible to demonstrate the site’s immediate surroundings, making some broad-brush assumptions for the school. This provided a clear picture to enable decisions to be made about layout, scale and massing, building design, window placement etc, enabling clear decisions to be made for the internal floor plans and their relationship with the broader context.
With the prospect of a new primary school within a short distance from the site, it was decided that part of the ground floor would be accessible to the general public, rather than being a private scheme for resident use only. This will enable visitors to use the building and benefit from the services available, as well as offering opportunities for the residents to integrate on a day-to-day basis with the wider community. It is hoped that this will aid with integration of the facility into its social surroundings from the outset and benefit the health and wellbeing of the residents.
Materials & Technologies
Several new, innovative products and solutions were utilised in the construction of the building.
The primary structure was built using Porotherm, an innovative, thin bed, adhesive fixed, clay block walling system. This enabled an accelerated construction programme, coupled with environmental benefits associated with the system using significantly less water than traditional blockwork construction, therefore reducing drying out times.
Off-site prefabricated bathroom pods for each of the apartments required considerable coordination to ensure a consistent design to be applied to each specific apartment layout, thereby building-in efficiencies and contributing towards the accelerated construction period.
Internally, emerging technologies were incorporated into apartment designs, including a heating system that utilise heated skirting boards, removing the need for wall-mounted radiators and allowing for greater flexibility of internal layout and furniture arrangements. Beyond this, the building is fitted with a microprocessor-controlled sprinkler system in order to achieve the necessary levels of fire safety for a vulnerable end user group.
Our primary aim for all projects is always absolute client satisfaction, which as can be seen from the following testimonial has been achieved.
“We are thrilled that our latest extra care development is complete. Together with Willmott Dixon and our other partners, we have created a modern community in the heart of the National Forest, a vibrant place to inspire health and wellbeing. Springfields is unique in that it is an inter-generational scheme, meeting the needs of older residents as well as younger service users who may have physical and/or learning disabilities or sensory needs.”
Chris Jones; Executive director of development at East Midlands Homes
Willmott Dixon Construction, assumed the role of Project Lead, managing the evolution of the original design concept into the delivery of a well-considered and efficient technical design package.
This included working closely with the Design Team, focussing on achieving design excellence via the adoption of BIM Level 2 standards and a federated model.
Using the state-of-the-art immersive experience offered by Willmott Dixon’s BIM Cave set-up, we were able to export their cad design model to be presented to the client in a fully 3D virtual reality setting enabling the client to accurately ‘experience’ the internal and external spaces facilitating a much more detailed review of the design at an early stage, allowing a number of specific queries to be addressed during the early design phase.
This innovative approach drove efficiencies in the delivery of the technical packages, allowing key decisions to be made earlier than are often possible in traditional procurement contributing towards project milestones being reached on time.