A Sense of Community: The Centre, Rye Hill

May 14, 2018 | Posted by Jake Mullery

A Sense of Community: The Centre, Rye Hill

We understand a community to be a diverse network of individuals and groups from a wide range of backgrounds who share common and/or personal interests across a wide range of subjects. The design brief for any new community-focused building or space is therefore extremely complex and requires a great deal of consideration and research. Ultimately, any new community building must acknowledge the needs and wants of the individuals who visit, or it will fail, and become a redundant space.

The NHS Trust’s Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital has commissioned Dunn Architects to design a new building for Rye that provides private spaces for various healthcare services. The building has also been conceived as a ‘social condenser’ that invites the community of Rye (of all ages and backgrounds) to engage in various group activities, meet with loved ones for a coffee or make new friends.

A Collaborative Approach

Engaging with the end-user groups at an early stage is imperative to spatially plan a building that will provide all the necessary elements of a healthcare centre. Fundamentally, the building needs to operate in-tune with the day-to-day operations and connect key rooms, spaces and people in an efficient way. Dunn Architects visited existing local day-care facilities in Tenterden and New Romney to assess how they operate. Meetings with both management and staff were held to ascertain specific requirements for each centre and highlight areas that could be improved upon. This was a highly rewarding ‘fact finding’ exercise, that helped to refine the project brief.

Regular design reviews with the NHS Trust and end-user groups were held throughout both the planning and detailed design stages to ensure all parties were satisfied with the design as it developed.

The Design

Conceived as cluster of 3 intersecting cuboid forms, the building provides a treatment zone to the North of the site, an activity zone to the South and an open-plan atrium zone in the centre, connecting all spaces. Office space is provided at first floor level, which will be used for administration and meetings.

The treatment rooms are small, intimate spaces for one-to-one consultation or therapy. In contrast, the activity rooms are large open-plan spaces with large sliding /folding partitions that can be easily moved to connect all three spaces. Each space will be sound proofed to enable a wide variety of activities to take place simultaneously. The space will cater for all demographics and interests. Glazing is used as a feature, to visually connect users with outside. When the weather permits, users can carry out their activities in the garden/patio area on the south side.

Architecturally, the most dominant feature of this new building is the double-height atrium space. At ground level, a large seating area provides a space to share a coffee with friends or have lunch. Tucked at the back of the space, a semi-private dining area will be used by the day-care users. The space will be warm and inviting and it is hoped that it will provide a space for opportune chitchat between the younger and older generations and a place of respite for carers. At first floor level, a mezzanine/gallery will provide a space for staff to have lunch and keep an eye on patients below.

Next Steps

Construction starts this summer and the building will be ready for community use in summer 2019.