listed building

Designing for children with autism

Last year we completed the Children’s Neurosciences Centre at St Thomas’ Hospital.   This multi-million pound clinic facility was built for the assessment of children and young adults diagnosed with a wide range of severe behaviour problems: some subdued; some highly intelligent; some severely disabled and others requiring speech and other therapies.  The clinic facilities include assessment and observation rooms with live-feed monitoring systems, medical examination rooms and specialist therapy rooms.  There is also an independent, self-contained sleep assessment clinic, aptly named the “Sleep-over Hotel”.  There are extensive support facilities for the staff which include state-of-the-art conference suite, training rooms, meeting rooms and offices.

The facility was officially opened by Rt Hon John Bercow MP (Speaker of the House of Commons) and Patricia Moberly (former Chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’). Mr Bercow’s son had been a patient at the centre, and said that the new facility “respected” autistic children like no other facility.  He went on to say, “My son was treated by Professor Gillian Baird in the old unit at Guy’s Hospital, so I see first hand the difference it makes.”

Gillian Baird (OBE), Professor of Paediatric Neurodisability, also paid tribute to the people present who had been key to the success of the project.  “Staff and designers worked with patients, families and experts to create the perfect environment for the children, many of whom have autism spectrum disorders or physical disabilities.”
Patient sensitivity…
Former and existing patients were also present at the opening, some of whom had been consulted by our design team at several stages of the design process.  The feedback they provided at key stages in the design development was particularly valuable as research in the field formed an essential part of our design […]

Sustainability and existing buildings

Can existing buildings be made to be sustainable?  Of course they can be, but unfortunately people often look at dilapidated and under-used existing buildings and assume that the most sustainable and environmentally friendly solution would be to replace the building with a new, modern building.  This approach can of course have it’s benefits; the building can be built from the ground up using the latest technologies and methods, making it easier to achieve the highest standards of energy efficiency.  It can also work out to be a more cost effective approach.  However, sustainability is a complicated issue which demands that we consider the entire life span of a building when deciding the most responsible approach to building.

Many modern buildings are built with construction efficiency, energy efficiency and cost efficiency in mind.  Their intended life cycle may not span beyond 60 or 70 years, but this can still be justified as a sustainable approach for new builds.  However, many older buildings were designed with longer life spans in mind, using a selection of durable materials that were not chosen for their sustainable credentials, such as solid brick, concrete, or stone.  There is a huge amount of embodied energy in well-constructed, old buildings so it would be irresponsible to demolish them if their lifespan can be extended significantly further unless the building cannot be adapted to fulfil current demands.
Unlocking the potential of existing buildings…
We specialise in adapting existing buildings.  We’ve learned that maximising the potential of an existing building requires resourcefulness and innovation, and when we succeed we discover that these buildings can perform beyond many people’s expectations. We’ve created high spec environments in existing buildings which boast dramatically improved energy efficiency, generously sized spaces, intelligently controlled […]