Elizabeth Makinson

Elizabeth Makinson

Elizabeth Makinson, who is studying at The University of Newcastle upon Tyne, was awarded Joint Second Place in the Architects for Health’s First Student Health Design Award (2007) for the following submission. For contact please email: e.j.makinson@newcastle.ac.uk

Hipernate… motion invited

A retreat centre for teenagers with ADHD that celebrates impulsiveness by encouraging interaction, animation, inspiration and stimulation. Located in the quiet Northumberland village of Warkworth, the centre is positioned on an atmospherically polar site that offers both prospect and refuge towards the village below. One can see without being seen.

The design concept is holistically sustainable with the aim of rooting the building into its context both physically and socially. A sense of planar walls reinstate an historic lost path that links the village and the Butts (at the south of the site). These 600mm deep walls start strong and straight at the north of the site, defining the accommodation area of the centre. As you travel south down the building, the walls gradually bend, both in plan and section to invite motion. The structure becomes less regimented and flows freely into its immediate landscape. The main circulation through the centre is deliberately a very long space defined by the tallest of the chunky walls. The increased travel distances between spaces provide an opportunity to let off steam and arrive at one’s destination calmer and ready for the next activity. The depth of the walls signifies the importance of transition from the motion-inviting corridor to the treatment spaces by intensifying each threshold.

The mortise and tenon green oak structure links the new build with the vernacular traditions of the area, and the straw bale infill condenses the construction’s eco footprint further still. The intermittent exposure of the straw bales by corrugated plastic on the facade continues the planar design concept to detail level and allows the inquisitive client group the opportunity to discover construction. The intention was to create a facade to satisfy curiosity and help relieve the low boredom threshold of children with ADHD. Who knows, perhaps the obsessional qualities of the children would develop a love of architecture during their stay! The roof and facade are both designed as weather dependent entities so users can associate memories during the materials’ evolution and their treatment.

Numerous objects have been designed with the user group in mind, for example by providing the occupants with the choice of enclosure or exposure, by the inclusion of window seats with in-swinging panes. Such a window system lets the landscape in and inspires interaction. Rotating seating made from recycled sleepers, in the courtyard, calm the teenagers by keeping the lower half of their bodies still whilst allowing motion radially. Their bedrooms are positioned facing east to allow natural awakening, and provision is made to allow breakfasting alone or by connection to one’s neighbour through a self controlled hatch.

The centre comprises; accessible accommodation for ten teenagers plus two family groups (in separate parental retreat), trampoline room, reception, community cafe, staff room and office, dining room to accommodate all centre users and interactive kitchen, community changing rooms (for football pitch), vegetable garden, al fresco dining area, teenagers courtyard, giant jenga area, plant room and woodchip store.

Hipernate is a retreat centre that aims to sensitively address its users needs by a socially and environmentally sustainable solution… a tailor made elucidation to an often misunderstood group.

The Architects for Health
First Student Health Design Award
was sponsored by


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