The Maples Respite Centre is a publicly funded centre for the provision of care for children with disabilities in West Essex. It was built to support parents in caring for children within their own homes.
The site was previously a primary school that was split into two sites for social care facilities. The client and architect needed to develop a design that used the space efficiently as limited land was available.
The brief also required a design on a domestic scale with a relaxed homely feel, while still meeting the need for specialist care facilities and easy maintenance.
The design team developed a one story cruciform plan with two self-contained flats leading off from a central circulation and administrative area. The footprint of the building creates 4 exterior courtyard spaces which can be accessed directly from the 8 bedrooms and from communal kitchen and living room areas.
The interiors are colourfully decorated and efforts have been made by the designers and the staff to give the space the personality of home rather than a bland institutional feel. The exterior spaces which are simply landscaped with flower beds, lawn areas and patio spaces add to the sense of comfortable domestic normality.
Design Quality Indicator (DQI)
The project required specialist knowledge to accommodate the care of disabled children, so the design professionals and the service manager needed to understand each other perfectly. The Design Quality Indicator (DQI) process was one of the consultative methods used to produce a building fit for purpose.