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First look

Hazle McCormack Young reworks estate of 12 redundant council houses as dementia care ‘village’

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The Harmonia Village in Dover is designed around a new concept of care based upon encouraging those living with dementia to lead as normal a life as possible

The project remodels 12 redundant semi-detached houses to provide accommodation for 30 residents, which is intended to enable them to engage with a familiar environment whilst having access to 24 hours care. A new hub building has communal facilities for residents – which can be used also by the local community – as well as accommodation for six-bed respite care.

One of the drivers of the project, which is for the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT), was to get people with dementia out of hospital, which is often an unsuitable and unsafe environment for them – with the obvious benefits too of freeing-up bed-space in acute care. 

The project was led on the client side by Henry Quinn the Strategic Intelligence Director at the Trust and Dr. Philip Brighton at the Dementia Centre of Clinical Excellence. Its concept is based on the model of the Hogeweyk Dementia Village in the Netherlands (2015) and 60% of the funding was secured from the EU: the Village being part of a European-funded project called Community Areas of Sustainable Care and Dementia Excellence in Europe (CASCADE).

1968 harmonia ext 01

1968 harmonia ext 01

Source: Gordon Young

A key focus of the project has been urban regeneration and maximising benefits for the local area and community. The opportunity was taken to use a redundant council housing site in Dover to realise the new concept with the aim also of engaging socially with surrounding residents, in order to de-stigmatise dementia and normalise the presence of people living with dementia in communities. Local companies were involved in the design and the project has created new employment opportunities for the local area, with over 30 staff already employed.

A residential monitoring system helps residents to keep living independently with a video communications system allows a person to interact with their care providers, thereby avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital.

The project aims to provide a model of design and care that could be used throughout the country to adapt redundant homes to be suitable for people living with dementia.

1968 harmonia ext 11

1968 harmonia ext 11

Source: Gordon Young

Architects view

The design team researched the latest thinking in dementia-friendly environments and adapted these for this context. This included adapting existing housing stock to be fully accessible and to create a new community. Externally the site had to be designed to ensure residents were able to move freely yet safely but at the same time be approachable to the local community. The new Hub building is the transition point between public, semi-public and private space. The Hub also provides a unique ‘guest house with care’ facility enabling visitors to stay over or carers to take a short break with their partners in a safe supportive environment.

This project addresses the population in the UK who are living with dementia by giving them appropriate supportive facilities whilst reducing the demand on NHS acute hospital resources. Their families know they are being well cared for in an environment that allows the resident to be active, which medically has shown to improve a person’s wellbeing.

The project has retrofitted 12 redundant semi-detached houses, which had been left empty for several years and were in various states of disrepair due to vandalism, and in one case arson, thereby achieving the carbon savings that can be made over demolition and rebuilding. The timber frame houses had a fabric first approach to energy reduction with higher levels of insulation. By bringing these former houses back to life a neglected and vandalised part of the area has been reinvigorated and improved the quality of the local environment for residents.

Harmonia hub landing 1

Harmonia hub landing 1

Source: Gordon Young

The new Hub building utilised modern methods of construction. The Structural Insulated Panel System provides high levels of insulation and airtightness constructed off site minimising waste. It features a precast concrete floor which efficiently provides acoustic separation to the first-floor bedrooms and added thermal mass.

The existing houses are of timber frame construction and proved to be adaptable to their new use and to improve their thermal performance.

The design demonstrates how standard housing stock can be retrofitted and adapted to meet the changing needs of the population and in particular those living with dementia.

The project is built on ecologically low grade land and some remedial contamination work was required. This enabled the established surrounding woodland to be maintained and the ecological diversity to be enhanced during the ongoing and future landscaping works by the residents, staff and volunteers.

The new hub building is already being used to proactively engage with a wide array of user groups from local charities to age-related community groups. 

Stephen Coomber, partner, Hazle McCormack Young

Harmonia house plan gf

Harmonia house plan gf

Source: Hazle McCormack Young

Ground floor plan of Type A house

Project data

Start on site October 2018
Completion date December 2019
Gross internal floor area 1,526m² (Hub: 468m2) (Houses: 1058m2)
Site area 7,462m²
Form of contract or procurement route NEC3
Construction cost £2.6 million
Construction cost per m2 Hub building: £2,622.85/m2; Houses £922.63/m2
Architect Hazle McCormack Young LLP
Client East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
Structural engineer Cason Green Associates
Civil engineer Tradex Limited
M&E consultant Norman Bromley Partnership
QS Helden Consultants
Principal designer Helden Consultants
Approved building inspector Harwood Building Control Approved Inspectors
Main contractor Jenner
CAD software used Revit 2018/AutoCAD 2018

Environmental performance data (Hub building)

On-site energy generation 0%
Annual mains water consumption 13 m3/occupant
Airtightness at 50pa 3.86 m
Heating and hot water load 51.96 kwh/m
Overall area-weighted u-value 0.34 w/m
Design life 60 years
Annual CO2 emissions 41.2 KgCO2eq/m2

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