Construction begins on therapeutic eating disorders unit

Design maximises woodland setting for patient wellbeing and recovery

The new eating disorders unit will enable patients to receive their treatment closer to home

Construction work has started on an £8m inpatient eating disorders unit at St Ann’s Hospital in Sandbanks.

Designed by Medical Architecture for Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust; the unit is situated in a protected wooded glade and has been carefully crafted to preserve the quality of its natural setting and to create a uniquely-private and therapeutic environment for inpatients.

The building will increase the trust’s capacity for specialist eating disorders care to meet demand in the local area, ensuring patients can receive their treatment closer to home — a factor that aids recovery.

The site selected for the new building is in the grounds of the Grade 2-listed St Ann’s Hospital on the Dorset coast.

The size and positioning of the building has been carefully crafted to have a low impact on the mature coastal trees that occupy the site and to respect the character of the surrounding area.

And the larger two-storey volume of the building is set back from the site boundary and adjoining road, reducing in scale to single storey as it approaches the street frontage.

The bedroom accommodation and patient day spaces are located together on the ground floor, providing eight inpatient beds and two high-dependency beds.

The transparent day spaces have views out to an accessible landscaped garden and the surrounding woodland, maximising the therapeutic benefit.

The ward plan, with a central staff base, aids observation and allows efficient staffing levels to be maintained.

Staff and therapy rooms occupy the first floor and a large activity space provides views out across the tree canopy.

Externally, the design uses traditional materials found on the hospital site, such as brick and clay roof tiles, but details them in a contemporary manner, providing a modern and attractive setting for the treatment and care of vulnerable patients.

And, internally, organic materials and neutral colours complement the ever-present views to nature, with large areas of glazing providing natural light to reinforce circadian rhythms and reduce the requirement for internal lighting.

The building has been designed to carefully preserve the woodland setting with an irrigated root-protecting foundation design that lifts the building above the roots and retains the large mature Category A trees.

These have extensive canopies, providing shade and shelter from extreme future climate effects and the external landscaping around the building is permeable and designed to retain as much rainwater on the site as possible.

Bob Wills, director at Medical Architecture, said: “Working closely with the trust we have designed a place where patients can recover in an environment conducive to recovery-focused and high-quality care.

“By integrating the building so closely with its natural setting we are able to fully harness the therapeutic quality of this fantastic site.”

Day spaces have views out to an accessible landscaped garden and surrounding woodland

The Project Team

Client: Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

Architects: Medical Architecture

Contractor: Kier Construction

Services Engineer: TNG Consulting Engineers

Structure and Civil Engineer: Godsell Arnold Partnership

Landscape Architects: Hellis Solutions

Quantity Surveyor: Gleeds

Fire Safety: IFC Group

CDM Coordinator: MLM Group

Acoustic Engineer: Ian Sharland

Project Manager: MMC Project Consulting

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