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GOSPORT DAY CARE CENTRE

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HAMPSHIRE

The GOSPORT DAY CARE CENTRE was designed in the 'organic' tradition by Joe Collins, working with Bartlett year-out student Hina Lad. The centre caters for the mentally handicapped, some of whom also have physical disabilities. It replaces a makeshift facility on the same site, on the outskirts of the Navy-dominated town.

Collins believes that 'individuals need individual buildings' and the Gosport day centre addresses very specific needs. There had been a makeshift facility on the site, a cramped, two-storey structure which could not be adapted to meet the brief. The new building is arranged along a central concourse, winding through from the front door to the garden at the rear. A dining room, activity room, workshop, computer room, and group room open off the central space.

The 'multi-sensory room' is deliberately free-form, intended - like the rest of the building - to stimulate the imagination of the users. 'Pods' were originally intended to house wcs, as at the Colden Common school, but were 'stretched out' to become more conventional spaces.

There is just a hint of Deconstruction about the Gosport day centre, a daring move on the part of a local authority architect. Given a tight budget, there had to be economies. The roof structure, for instance, was much simplified but its 'scimitar' form, clad in zinc sheet on a timber frame, is still striking. The colour scheme was also toned down in execution.

The building is let down by details which reflect the paucity of the budget, while the projected landscaping has simply failed to materialise at all. One enters across a bare expanse of tarmac and mud, while the 'garden' is just barren lawn.

The overall effect is a little dispiriting, despite the worthy, even heroic, intentions behind it. But, in its modest way, the Gosport day centre is a marker, a point of reference as Hampshire ponders the future shape of its public architecture.

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