Architect gets more healthcare work after installing dome skylight in care home

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Since his success in using a Solardome skylight to improve quality of life for residents at a care home in Wales, architect Tim Worsfold has picked up more work in the healthcare sector. We spoke to him about the project at Brindaavan Care Home to find out exactly what he did and whether he would do it again…

What was the care home like before the work?
When the owner bought the care home in 2014 he was presented with a series of dayrooms, and the problem he had was that the staff were dotted around all over the place. But the main area requiring development was an enclosed courtyard with the building running round it on three sides and a leaking glass conservatory.

What was the owner’s vision?
The owner wanted to bring together the dayrooms by building a roof over the whole of the courtyard, which then produced a room of about 106 square metres. But being enclosed, he needed to bring in more natural light into the middle of this area. After some research he found Solardome Industries and in particular their skylights.

How has the skylight dome helped you deliver the project?
A 6m diameter skylight seemed huge, but now the work is done the owner has a large flat roof with a geodesic glass dome right in the middle of it, and when the sun shines it’s like being outside. Add to that the actuators for venting and underfloor heating, and the residents are in the perfect constant environment (find more information at http://mydallaswindows.com/).

How important do you think access to natural light is for health and wellbeing?
Incredibly important, it’s paramount. I’m sure that if anybody wanted to go and see the dome for themselves the care home would be more than happy to show them around.

What other benefits has the dome brought?
The dome does two things. Firstly it lights up at night because of the ambient light and also a coloured light ring, which we put in to run right around the circumference of the dome. That light ring actually changes colour so the residents can enjoy the stimulation of the shifting colours, which is therapeutic and calming.
The second thing it does is work as a brand recognition tool. When it was first installed they had an audience outside. People stopped in the street to admire it. When anybody locally asks which one the Brindaavan Care Home is, they are told ‘it’s the one with the coloured dome’. So it has created quite a good marketing avenue for the owner who can now say, as far as I’m aware, it’s always full with a waiting list.

What are the other economic benefits of the building work?
The local authority is delighted, and is actually putting more money into the home and financing more training for staff because it is exactly the kind of unit that is needed in the borough.

What has been the reaction from staff?
They love it. They think it’s wonderful. They like the owner. He puts money into it, he listens to what they say, and it’s all working well. One piece of feedback was: “We think it’s fab.” As an architect who didn’t dream up the idea of the dome, I’m pleasantly surprised that it has turned out even better than anyone could have hoped for, and of course the client is delighted.

Would you use Solardome Industries again?
Since completing this project I’ve gone on to get more healthcare work, so it’s been very good for me. If a client rang up and wanted a skylight I would be more than happy to recommend Solardome. I did like working with them. I got on well with everybody and I knew where they were coming from. They were receptive to changes, so yes, I would do it again.

Tim Worsfold Architects
Tim Worsfold Architects www.architectsincardiff.co.uk
Brindaavan Care Home www.bchluk.com

 

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