In the past Noah’s Ark was able to support around 150 children and their families at home and in the community. The new building permits the charity to care for more than 450 children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families. Technological and medical advances are enabling many children with degenerative and life threatening illnesses to live longer. A local, purpose-built hospice meeting the changing palliative needs of children and their families in North London was long overdue.
The bright, eco-friendly hospice building includes six children’s bedrooms and three self-contained family rooms. For day visits, as well as those staying, the hospice offers rooms for soft play, a teen den, a sensory room, wet play, games room, therapy room and music room. Facilities include training areas for nurses and specialist carers, to help deliver badly needed support and care more widely. The building also includes end of life care and bereavement suites.
Part of the brief was to create an uplifting environment to enrich the experience of those using the building, whether as patients, family members or support workers; to provide an inspiring space for palliative care, relaxation and adventure within a ‘home from home’ environment that allows young people and their families to connect with others facing similar challenges, and be given the time and space to be children, not just patients.
Connections to the surrounding landscape were a priority, as well as providing a focal point for social interaction between the volunteers, community outreach workers and family visitors who will use the facility. This is reflected in the layout with a central hall connecting two wings in which more private uses are offered – a section each for therapy/play, children’s bedrooms, family rooms and administration – all benefiting from garden views. A lower ground level contains bereavement suites, a multi-faith room, staff facilities and storage.
At the heart of the building is a light-filled vaulted hall, connecting all four wings and providing a series of flexible social spaces under a timber-framed pitched roof. Each gable end is predominantly glazed to offer a welcoming entrance and draw the landscape into the building.
Externally, the building is organised around the oak-framed hall, a contemporary ‘barn’ space with glazed panels and painted timber fins, and four brick-clad wings with openable timber panels and windows overlooking the gardens, designed with areas for sensory play, contemplation, wild meadow and teens, all connected by a meandering path.
Noah’s Ark has been made possible through pro bono provision of services by most members of the build team made up of the following specialists: JLL UK, Pears Property, Squire and Partners, Sellar Property Group, Erith Demolition, GQ Design, Macfarlanes LLP, Odd Man Out, RPS Consulting Services Ltd, Ramboll, KUT, Rowland Bilsland Traffic Planning, ACD Environmental, Gensler, UNDA, Eco-Scope, Hodkinson Consultancy
Images: Squires & Partners