North East Connected

Organic homes win top accolade for transforming lives of residents with learning difficulties

CaptureA BESPOKE homes scheme that has become a model for future care has been highly commended in a prestigious award scheme.

Niven Architects was recognised in the community benefit category of the regional Royal Chartered Institute of Surveyors Awards, recently judged in Newcastle.

The scheme, for residents with learning difficulties, has been adopted by Middlesbrough Council as a model of design for people with complex needs.

Experts at Nivens worked closely with residents and staff of the Camphill Village Trust listening carefully to their wants, hopes and needs for Daffodil House, part of the Larchfield Community at Hemlington.

The scheme was a fraction of the size of many in the category but wowed judges with the degree of impact on residents’ lives.

“There were eight schemes in the category and we were not sure how good a chance we stood given there are only nine residents at Daffodil House,” said Niven director Simon Crowe.

“But judges seemed bowled over by how warm and embracing the community is and we were thrilled when they awarded us the commendation.

Judges said they were impressed by the quality of the design and the amount of space in the apartments, which, despite their modest cost, exceeded the statutory space standards by 15- 20 per cent.

“It was such a rewarding scheme to work on and Middlesbrough Council has adopted the approach as the way forward in the transition of young adults working towards independent living,” said Simon.

Residents had high praise for their new home, which they helped design, decorate and furnish, stating the RICS recognition was well deserved.

Jeremy Winkler was the first resident to receive the keys to a new flat in the development. He said: “I work in the gardens and requested a shower rather than a bath, which is better for my needs. I have also got a very useful garden shed for all my tools.”

Peter and Jean Head moved to Daffodil House from a bedsit. Peter said: “We used to live in one room and now we have our own bedroom, living room, bathroom and kitchen. It is really homely.”

Jean added: “I love the garden and we grow daffodils. It is great that it has been recognised as it deserves it.”

Kenny Sharman said: “I was asked what colour I would like it painting and I chose green which is very calming.”

Sophisticated technology called Building Information Management allowed the trust staff, residents and their families to visualise and adapt the scheme, opened last year by former Team GB paralympian Dame Tanni Grey Thompson.

The initiative, to provide eight individual apartments for residents with learning difficulties, was designed by the regional practice, which is based in Darlington, to fit in with the facility’s Steiner principles of holistic education and development.

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