Bespoke supported living facility for people diagnosed with dementia

TODD Architects has completed The Croft in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, a ‘state-of-the-art supported living development specifically designed for people living with early stage dementia’. The architects worked with worked with Choice Housing, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, and the Northern Ireland Executive, to develop and deliver the bespoke scheme in the Abbots Cross area of the Belfast suburb. The 24 new-build self-contained apartments are arranged as a village, ‘encouraging residents to follow a conventional life pattern, designed for their safety, therapy, wellbeing, and ease of accessibility’. TODD Architects said: “The design surpasses current standards for supported housing and dementia care, setting a new precedent of quality, enabling people with a care need to continue to live independently in the community, with the completed building providing a bright, secure, and pleasant place in which to live.”

Paula Conway, senior development officer, Choice Housing, said: “The positive partnership with TODD Architects has provided an exemplar build, setting a new standard for design in supported housing and independent living.” The Croft residential arrangement is intended to function as a village community, containing a central social hub incorporating communal facilities. The hub is linked via four internal ‘street branches’ to clusters of six apartments or ‘communities’, each with their own shared social spaces shared private road access.

TODD Architects says the architecture is ‘modern, while domestically familiar in scale, and widely accessible’, and aimed at combating any stigma associated with supported living and dementia healthcare. The three different apartment types vary in size and layout depending on the resident’s needs. The scheme also offers ‘a durable, easily maintained, and environmentally-friendly’ solution, providing a sense of autonomy for residents, with controls for optimum lighting and ventilation and excellent acoustics for privacy and dignity.

The landscaping was carefully considered to allow for accessibility and limited maintenance. The courtyards are between apartment clusters, offering each direct access to the landscaped gardens and spaces. The main entrance, facing the central courtyard, is linked to each cluster of apartments and gardens via a main internal street. Entrance and admissions offer a generous, easily identifiable reception space that optimises natural daylight and offers garden panoramas. The shared communal break-out facilities and amenity spaces are located along the main internal street to encourage interaction. Glazed internal walkways and meeting alcoves offer external views, generous light penetration, and clear wayfinding, and allow for effective observation.

The apartment clusters are simple in composition and designed to be domestic in both scale and character. These residential blocks are finished externally in buff tumbled brick and painted render with colourful canopies signifying the front door. The communal block is much larger, with the main entrance emphasised by an oversailing mono-pitch roof supported by an eight-metre-high column painted out in bright yellow.

Existing trees were retained and reinforced with additional native planting to provide a parkland green. A perimeter road runs around the scheme, providing car parking and external access to each apartment. An awkwardly shaped section of the site has been grassed to provide amenity space, but this will likely be developed to provide allotment space for the residents at a later stage.