Aitken Turnbull Architects

Stranraer dementia facility and youth foyer given green light

Loreburn Housing Association has been given the go-ahead by Dumfries and Galloway Council to build dementia-friendly housing alongside an innovative ‘Youth Foyer’ on the site of the former Garrick Hospital in Stranraer.

The proposals, which were designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects, will see the creation of eight one-bed and four two-bed ‘extra care’ dementia-friendly homes. New parking spaces for 37 vehicles will also be created on the site.

Built alongside the new homes, the Youth Foyer will offer supported accommodation for up to 12 young people, in order to combat youth homelessness and to increase employment and opportunity.

Youth Foyers, which are recognised as international best practice, provide safe and secure housing, support and training for young people aged 16 -25. The Stranraer Foyer will be a first for Dumfries and Galloway and only the second foyer in Scotland.

Young people living at the Foyer will be expected to be either in education, an apprenticeship, other employment or training, and will have access to volunteering opportunities within the community.

The Youth Foyer will also offer community access areas, a state of the art conference facility, breakout spaces and access to WiFi, creating a transformational space for Stranraer and Wigtownshire.

Lorraine Usher, chief executive at Loreburn Housing Association, said: “Our idea to create dementia-friendly accommodation alongside a youth foyer in Stranraer has been on the cards for a long time, so to have got the go-ahead from Dumfries & Galloway Council is really exciting news for the whole community, as this is a development which will bring so many benefits. Everyone at Loreburn is delighted and I am especially pleased for development team who have worked hard to bring this project to fruition. By offering shared space which is accessible to grassroots and public bodies alike there is an opportunity to address issues that lead to poor health and wellbeing outcomes for people in the area.”

She added: “The building will be for the whole community, who will be able to use its meeting rooms, break-out spaces and WiFi.  The architects for the development have an excellent track record in residential design, and it will also be eco-friendly and sustainable, using a district heating system and photovoltaics.”

Work on the new development is expected to start on site in spring 2018 and finish in summer 2019.

Architect develops virtual reality device to help design dementia-friendly buildings

3. dementia-friendly design_without dementiaA new virtual reality device has been launched that will help architects and designers create dementia-friendly buildings and spaces by understanding how dementia can affect a person’s vision.

The invention is a market first for architectural design and will be known as Virtual Reality Empathy Platform (VR-EP).

It can be used in the design of new buildings such as care homes, hospitals or sheltered housing, and also has the potential to assess existing buildings and environments. Dementia-friendly design can significantly improve the quality of life for people living with the condition.

There are currently more than 800,000 people in the UK living with dementia, a figure that is expected to rise to 1.7 million by 2051. Dementia costs the UK economy £26.3 billion per year – more than cancer and heart disease combined.

This application can help healthcare providers save expensive adaptive costs by designing buildings and spaces with the person living with dementia in mind.

People living with dementia can see things very differently, with objects often appearing dimmer and less colourful than they really are, which can be frightening and confusing.

By using this device to see things through the eyes of a fictional person living with dementia, building or interior designers will be able to create homely and familiar environments that could reduce accidents, lessen anxiety and help those living with dementia live more independent lives.

David Burgher

David Burgher

The idea is the brainchild of David Burgher, director at Scottish Borders-based Aitken Turnbull Architects, who has developed the product in partnership with Glasgow CGI company Wireframe Immersive and experts at the Dementia Centre, HammondCare. The Dementia Centre is recognised as a world leader in dementia support, care and design. It provided the evidence-based research and academic rigour to this product. Wireframe Immersive has developed the virtual environment and will supply the software and hardware.

David Burgher said: “At Aitken Turnbull we have many years of experience in designing buildings for the elderly and for people living with dementia and have gained valuable insight into the condition, allowing us to empathise with those who live with it.

“The introduction of this unique VR-EP technology takes this insight to the another level – giving building designers first-hand experience of how dementia affects vision so that we can design spaces that are far better suited to people living with the condition.

“As well as reducing anxiety, the improved design offers a better, safer and more independent quality of life. Dementia-friendly design doesn’t have to cost more. In fact, by using VR-EP, designers will get it right first time and therefore reduce costs.”

VR-EP comprises a laptop with high performance graphic and memory capability, Virtual Reality goggles, a games controller, camera and bespoke software programming.

Kevin Gordon, business development manager at Wireframe Immersive, said: “VR-EP is leading edge technology being developed by Scottish companies and a fantastic example of how virtual reality can be used to improve quality of life. The scale of dementia and its associated costs is colossal, not just in the UK but across the globe. VR-EP also has the potential to be adapted to simulate other sensory impairments and be used across a spectrum of disorders, so its potential is enormous.”

Professor Mary Marshall, senior consultant at the HammondCare Dementia Centre’s UK team, added: “One of the biggest challenges for researchers, trainers and consultants in dementia design, is how you convey the experience of the environment for people living with dementia. This device has the potential to be immensely beneficial for researchers, commissioners, architects and interior designers, and many other professionals in this field, and the Dementia Centre, HammondCare are delighted to be part of it.”

The VR-EP device was developed with £50,000 of funding from Scottish Enterprise and is projected to generate ten times that amount of sales (£500,000) by year three of trading. Aitken Turnbull Architects and Wireframe Immersive are currently carrying out a scoping exercise with interest from Scottish Development International (SDI) to export this virtual reality device to Europe, China and the States.

David McHoul, innovation specialist at Scottish Enterprise, said: ‘This project is another great example of Scotland’s strengths in innovation and our support will help develop this ground-breaking dementia design and empathy platform to service a patient group which is globally underserviced. Initial research shows there is a strong demand for this product on an international scale and the VR-EP device will make a profound impact in improving the environment for those living with dementia.”

Dementia care unit planned for Kelso

queens-house-website-image-1-660x400Plans have been lodged for a £3 million dementia unit situated next to the existing Queen’s House care home in Kelso.

Developers claim the 18-bed Murray House facility on Angraflat Road would create about 30 jobs.

A design statement by Aitken Turnbull Architects said about 30% of the Borders population was forecast to be over 60 within 20 years with rising demand for care services.

The new unit would be separate to the current home in order to meet the “different needs” of dementia residents.

The outward looking bedrooms are positioned to provide residents with a direct connection to the landscaped gardens; a feature which will assist in the effective care of dementia patients. Social spaces for sitting and dining are situated in the NW and SW corners to provide shared internal amenity space for both residents and guests which also provides direct connection to the outdoors.

The central hub and service building will be positioned to the south east of the existing boundary wall and will share a public domain with Queens House. This allows the more utilitarian functions to be kept separate from the dementia care residents and will provide activity areas, a salon, and quiet room which service at a destination for residents of Queens House and the new Murray House.

Subject to planning permission, it is hoped work could start in August and be completed by autumn 2018.

Aitken Turnbull Architects unveils Borders health centre plans

NHS Borders Galashiels entrance car parkNHS Borders has submitted plans to build a new medical centre on the site of a former ambulance depot in Galashiels.

Designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects, the proposals will see the current Roxburgh Street building demolished and replaced with a new facility to accommodate GPs, health visitors and district nurses. An ambulance crew would also be based at the centre.

A total of 21 spaces are incorporated into the design of the new health centre, as well as an additional four for paramedics and their ambulance. The move is expected to allow paramedics quick access to the west side of the town.

Jane Davidson, the chief executive of NHS Borders, confirmed that a planning application was submitted to Scottish Borders Council in December.

She added: “Demolition of the existing building on the site is scheduled to commence in the next week or so, and based on our current planning assumptions the first stage of building will start in May.”

A previous planning application for the site was withdrawn in June 2014 to allow for the completion of a flood risk assessment to satisfy concerns raised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The project was then put on hold when a second application in May 2015 was later withdrawn.