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3W Architects completes garden room for Stoke Mandeville Hospital


The room, in a garden designed with RHS Gold medal winner Joe Swift, was commissioned by the Horatio’s Garden Charity, which creates gardens in NHS spinal injury centres

The garden and room together have been designed to give patients and their relatives a calm, accessible space away from the clinical environment. 

The garden includes secluded areas for patients to be on their own or with visitors. There is also a rill and a water feature, and both evergreen and colourful perennial planting, both bird and butterfly-friendly to give all-year-round interest. 

The garden room means the garden can be enjoyed even when the weather is poor, while providing facilities for patients to make a cup of tea, share lunch with visitors or participate in volunteer-led activities which the charity runs. These include help with gardening and propagating plants in an accessible greenhouse.

Stoke mandeville garden room 8

Outside the garden room is a communal area that can be used by patients for lunch or for events like live music.

The site was previously occupied by a standby generator and transformer, and the new room reuses the existing retaining walls.

It sits to the south-west of the hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and is part of the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC), one of the oldest and largest spinal injury centres in the world with an inpatient capacity for 109 adult patients and 9 adolescent and paediatric beds.

Inside garden room at stoke mandeville 5

Architects view 

The initial concept for the garden room was a sheltering tree within the garden, providing protection from the wind and rain as well as offering shade, an idea that we then translated into built form as a building under a sheltering roof. 

The roof structure is supported on two ‘trunks’ pinned at their bases. It is stopped from rotating by three 50mm stainless-steel tie rods at the rear of the building. The structure cantilevers 7m over the multifunctional area and 4m over the kitchen/service area. The roof is separated from the walls by high-level continuous glazing. This reinforces the idea of the canopy being a separate element to the walls

The roof has been designed to modulate the climate by providing dappled shade as well as being highly insulated. It is also designed as a rain collector and will be used to help irrigate the new garden.

The building exploits natural ventilation, passive solar gain as well as low-energy underfloor heating to provide a pleasant environment all year round. The walls have a number of functions. They are retaining structures as well as incorporating storage and providing locations for plants to grow.  

The primary construction material is timber both internally and externally, as well as glass and steel. Our approach was to use natural materials which are untreated as much as possible. The flooring used is a continuation of the external bonded gravel, which reinforces the connection with the garden. Together the intention is for an environment with robust finishes requiring low maintenance.

Andrew Wells, director, 3W Architects

Inside garden room at stoke mandeville 9

Client’s view

Our original brief for the garden room in Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville was to create a flexible, accessible space for patients and their loved ones to enjoy at their leisure. We imagined a light, airy sanctuary that offered patients the chance to make a cup of tea, meet with friends and family and come together for various seasonal events.

Now that the garden room is complete it has proven itself to be an invaluable part of the garden. By fulfilling all the elements outlined in our original conception, the garden room has supported people in various ways. The charity has held numerous events here, offering people the chance to socialise and get to know each other. The room has provided a space for the charity-run art therapy sessions too, which has led to the patient-created Flowers on Flowers installation which now brightens the entrance to the National Spinal Injuries Centre.

Horatio’s Garden Charity

Site plan

Site plan

Project data

Start on site June 2018
Completion date March 2019
Gross internal floor area 84.9m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 304m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Intermediate Building Contract 2016
Construction cost £236,000
Construction cost per m2 £2,780
Architect 3W Architects Limited (3WA)
Client Horatio’s Garden Charity
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant Edward Pearce
Quantity surveyor Robert Lombardelli Partnership
Interior design Susie Atkinson Design
Landscape consultant Joe Swift
Project manager Robert Lombardelli Partnership
CDM principal designer 3WA
Approved building inspector All Building Control (ABC)
Main contractor Boom Construction
CAD software used MicroStation, Revit, SketchUp, Photoshop
Annual CO2 emissions 49.7KgCO2/m²

Inside garden room at stoke mandeville 1

Inside the garden room


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