‘The outside is as important as the inside’ was the brief for a development of new apartments for elderly people with extra care needs. Easy access to a safe, navigable and stimulating outdoor space is well recognised as an important tool in maintaining mental and physical wellbeing. Subsequently each of the 60 flats has a private balcony or ground floor terrace for residents to enjoy as well as a central courtyard garden.
A shaded outdoor dining area and a large terrace for barbecues and communal events will encourage participation and daily interaction with others, while a potager garden with raised beds, a greenhouse and potting shed is an opportunity for therapeutic activity and physical exercise.
In response to the limited walking opportunities around the site, a labyrinth garden has been designed to allow residents to enjoy a meditative walk through scented plants which leads them back to their starting point. There is also a screened area for drying laundry in the fresh air which is a familiar activity that will encourage residents into the garden.
Generous, level paths of resin-bound gravel will give easy access around the site, with resting and activity areas delineated by natural stone or warm brick. There is an emphasis on planting with bright colour, nostalgic scents, and nectar for wildlife to bring enjoyment and cognitive stimulus. Client Bristol Charities was pleased that, despite the site constraints, the design offered them everything on their wish list.
Orchard Homes in Stockwood was designed by Alec French Architects in Bristol and has been granted planning permission. Work on site begins in 2016.