#prince of wales hospice
The Prince Princess of Wales Hospice
’The Feeling of Home’
Strangely familiar yet surprisingly new:
NORD’s response to the brief for The Prince Princess of Wales Hospice is to turn to the familiar image of ‘the home’ for clues as to how we might consider an appropriate but inspiring piece of architecture for the Hospice.
This new purpose built hospice is placed within a site at the edge of Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park set against a backdrop of historically significant traditional villas and Arts and Crafts cottages. This privileged placement realises a building with civic and public presence whose form mediates between the city it serves and its parkland landscape setting.
Architecture often forgets that one of its primary goals is to trigger an emotion. This may be comfort, protection or memories. The building carries a weight of seriousness due to the circumstances of the people who arrive. However, a balance of dealing with these serious aspects and necessary care provision alongside the social, spiritual and emotional needs of the patients has been discussed at length and addressed throughout the design process. Through a comprehensive consultation process with staff, volunteers, patients and families the building has evolved into a unique solution to a challenging brief.
To negate the potential sprawl of the complex brief and room relationships, the programme has been reduced to four interconnected ‘villas’ that reduce the overall perception of scale and minimise the building footprint. This is further reinforced where the ‘villas’ floorplates have been ‘stacked’ to work in conjunction with the existing site topography and create vertical relationships. The form of this massing is derived from ‘Greek’ Thomsons ‘Double Villa’ which is located nearby the site. Here, the ‘villas’ are duplicates but turned to face in opposite directions to take advantage of extensive views and enable them to derive equal benefit from the sun. The articulation of each clock establishes a close harmony with the planned landscape setting in the round. The geometry and overlapping of the villas arrangement create a central, top-lit space that is a focal point for the Prince Princess of Wales Hospice integral art therapy and public circulation. Carved at the heart of each ‘villa’ is a social space which provide orientation with natural opportunities for informal meetings, conversations and quiet reflection.
The protective nature of the building is realised in a loggia, or verandah, that runs around the whole building providing a transition zone between the interior spaces and the surrounding landscape. This is an integral domestic scaled space for patient use and inhabitation. The inhabited perimeter contains a series of ‘familiar elements’ –, terraces, alcoves for private reflection or discussion, stairs to access the gardens. The robust quality of the perimeter breaks down outwith the overhanging roof elements where the traditional notion of a bay window appears to allow a more direct exposure and interaction with the landscape. Whether windowed, screened, or open-air, the loggia is realised as the critical mediating space between the formality of a consulting room or bedroom and the informality of the outdoors. It becomes an integral part of the Hospice design, rather than a tacked-on element. A place to linger, a place to pause or savour a cherished view.
NORD have turned to natural slate for the external skin of the building, which reinforces the protective nature of the building envelope. Internally timber linings create warmth and the prevailing aura is hushed and conducive to thoughtful, concentrated spaces. One senses the physical weight of the building on the outside at the same time as the ethereal quality of the light filled, warm, interior spaces. These protective elements differ in density and permeability depending on the interior functions, sunlight and the site conditions. The backdrop of this protective zone is a brickwork construction that relates to the existing ‘garden walls’ within Bellahouston Park whilst also reinforcing a familiar domestic construction method.
Our proposal might look slightly familiar, almost normal, but has something unexpected, surprising and memorable about it. Familiar, because it’s basic components are archetypes of traditional buildings; it will be a family of simple spaces with carefully placed windows allowing visual access to the outside at all times, it will have domestic scale doors, party walls, articulated pitched roof, chimneys, window seats and alcoves. This will be a piece of architecture, which feels comfortably like home, humble and dignified, unobtrusive and private when required.