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Type: Masterplan for reorganisation of a residential special needs school facility based around a village green.
New Build Construction of a Children’s residential house .
Client : Riverside Childcare Services Ltd
Contractor : Cox and Allen (Kendal)
Contract Type : JCT Intermediate
Project Value CPI : £ 1,100,000.00

The principal intention for the site is a reflection of the school’s approach to social rehabilitation, where care and reconciliation take place in a protected environment which maintains contacts with the local community. The centre of the site will become a “village green”, although private land. The green is open on one side to the passing road becoming an interface between the protected domain of the children and the outside world. Openness and freedom is a central premise in the running of the community and an important perception for the children of their own connection to the community.

The Green is further defined by two other sides, activated by buildings and a “necklace” of landscape amongst which a Sport building and Workshops are intended for semi-public use to encourage the potential of sharing skills, training and interaction with the local community. The “necklace” is an evolving sequential set of elements that physically binds the site together, while its temperamental makeup allows for the complexities of how communities evolve and develop though negotiation between groups and individual concern. It is composed of a string of elements made up of circulation routes and communal meeting places that physically edge the green. Interlinked with territorial mats that sit directly in front of their buildings. The “mats” correspond to the internal actives of the buildings and symbolically reflect the “openness” of the riverside as a community; but also define an immediate territory that children can claim as their own. The “mats” orientate to the green and are made up of rich carpet like “tapestries” such as coloured concrete, tarmac and stone upon which solid objects of external furniture.

Given the very particular nature of the brief and that the new house would operate together with a series of future new houses, each functioning as a “family unit” the question of its appearance, fulfilling perhaps a preconception of the client and in particular the children, was sharply brought into focus during a series of workshops held at the school early on in the project.  During these workshops a number of ideas were crystallised with regards to planning, grouping of spaces and relationships of rooms, the heart of the house the living toom and the manner in which the stairs embrace etc. But in particular the image of a house or a home as an icon, which is perhaps a speculation that their image of a home and the protection it should offer was one and the same thing. An element largely denied in the lives of many of the children there. Certainty the desire to see a popular presentation for “home” was prevalent in all the representatives of our Client, not least the children.

This project won an RIBA regional award in 1999 and was runner up for the Stephen Lawrence Award in Architecture.

JURY COMMENT : The highest possible accolade for this building comes from a report by the client that indicates that the balance struck between the homely and the functional has made the residents of this house less disruptive than those of others: a clear indicator of good architecture having a beneficial effect on social behaviour.