The quality of aged, dementia and palliative care accommodation is often institutional, unwelcoming and lacking in human warmth.
Working with architects Architype, Price & Myers set out to design Extra Care residential accommodation that would provide homely, familiar, more domestic living, and improve quality of life for residents and visitors alike.
Price & Myers provided a full structural and civil engineering service from concept through to completion. The project provides 53 self-contained residential units together with community spaces – lounges, dining room, roof terrace, salon and spa treatments rooms and landscaped gardens.
The design allows the predominantly older residents to maintain an independent lifestyle by providing a ‘home-for-life’ that integrates varied levels of care and support and forms part of the wider Millbrook Care Village development.
The ambition for Passivhaus accreditation has driven the building’s form and approach to construction. The accommodation is designed to be dementia-friendly and consider Building Biology recommendations to reduce physical, chemical and biological risks, eliminate toxic materials & electromagnetic radiation.
The project incorporates the client’s requirement for the design to account for future climate change using weather data predictions up to 2080. A key design feature is the incorporation of thermal mass to account for the rise in predicted temperatures. This motivated a concrete frame approach instead of a lighter solution such as timber frame. The climate data predicts that a time will come when external temperatures will prevent natural cooling and night purging. When that tipping point arrives, the building is designed so the under-floor heating and air systems can be converted to distribute coolth throughout the structure. The structural design challenge was to account for the increased loading associated with this construction type, while maintaining the thermal isolation envelope.
A key structural consideration centred on how to achieve thermal continuity throughout without compromising structural integrity. An early decision was made to use a walled structural system in order to spread vertical loads linearly, rather than use columns which result in concentrated point loads. The walls sit upon an in-situ slab that spans the ground floor, which in turn is supported on wide, piled ground beams. The wider ground beams and linear load arrangement reduce stresses which pass through the thermal insulation, running continuously under the slab. High performance insulation is used locally under the wall positions, allowing for a more thermally efficient insulation under the majority of the lighter-loaded floor plan.
We considered a range of wall types which were assessed against cost, constructability and airtightness. Shortlisted options included masonry with a parge coat for airtightness, Logic-wall, Twinwall and pre-cast. The design was developed to tender with the flexibility to use either Twinwall or pre-cast, with the latter selected. Balconies are designed to be free-standing with a nominal lateral restraint back to the building to limit thermal bridging.