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Location: Sutton Scotney, Winchester

Client: Wessex Children's Hospice Trust

Value: £5m

Status: Completed 2009

Naomi House

ArchitecturePLB was commissioned by Wessex Children’s Hospice following a competitive interview to design a new, fully accessible six bedroom unit at Naomi House, providing additional accommodation for adolescents and their families.

In a sensitive, countryside location, Naomi House is a bespoke building providing respite care and support for children with life-limiting illness, whose families care for them in adapted homes. Improving medical treatment has helped children grow into young adults whose accommodation requirements are no longer met by the existing building.

The new unit adjoins Naomi House between a listed country house, Sutton Manor, and a noisy dual carriageway. Despite usual planning constraints for development in rural locations, the imperative of co-located hospice services was sufficient for the planning authority to support the proposal.

The new facility links to the existing building through an avenue of mature trees. Named ‘Jack’s Place’ in memory of the principal benefactor, the new unit has been specifically designed to meet the needs of young people, providing communal facilities for socialising as well as specialist medical support spaces. These needs were the subject of detailed briefing led by clinicians and carers to anticipate future needs, with input from the young people themselves.

The consultation process was important to understand the exceptional and even unique requirements of young adults with life-limiting illness. For instance, thermal comfort and climatic control is paramount due to some of their immune systems having limited functionality. The inclusion of a large hydrotherapy pool to assist mobility and offer sensory stimulation is another example of the many essentials of their lives.

Apart from benefiting from bespoke pursuits such as the hydrotherapy pool, sensory room, and wheelchair racetrack, the overall experience has to be fundamentally enjoyable. The main rooms are ‘branded’ as exotic locations for their short stays, with the demanding specifications required for the internal sterile environments tempered by use of colour and pattern to create a character more homely than institutional.