Creating a new community hub with homes, care and social facilities for the local Jewish population.
Jewish Care is the largest health and social care charity serving the Jewish community in London and the south east, caring for over 7,000 people every week. One of their 70 centres was in an old Victorian school in Golders Green, which functioned predominantly as a day centre. This was always a well loved and busy place – as well as locals regularly dropping in, older people from further afield would be brought in on buses. Jewish Care saw an opportunity to improve these services, while providing further facilities for the community on its doorstep.
The charity launched a design competition to find an architectural practice to realise their vision for a new campus. As well as reproviding the day centre, it needed to accommodate a new residential care home for dementia sufferers, extra care homes for Holocaust survivors and offices for the charity. Our winning proposals focused on combining these different uses into one cohesive building that would become a focal point for older Jewish people in this part of north London.
During the development of the design, we consulted extensively with Jewish Care, its volunteers and day centre visitors. User groups for each of the new elements were established so that we could ensure their particular requirements were met. We worked closely with the Holocaust survivors, their friends, family and carers to create spaces that made them feel safe and secure. Our landscape team also worked particularly intensively with the dementia care staff and commissioners to create outside environments that were reassuring but also stimulating to the senses. This was a unique project and we felt privileged to be a part of it.
The challenging aspect of this project was to organise the four distinct uses within one building, all the while ensuring appropriate levels of access, privacy and security for each of them. For instance, the day centre needed to be open and welcoming, whereas the homes needed to be much more private. The interaction of these spaces is a key aspect of the overall campus and the use of the outdoor spaces to mediate between and connect them is a key part of its success.
We conceived the new scheme as a perimeter building around a calm, central courtyard, which works to unify all of the different elements and to provide a sociable, focal point. The central courtyard is a private and peaceful space and features a variety of stimulating sensory planting.
The new day centre has become a lively hub for the Jewish community, with shops, a café, hairdresser and space for group classes and visiting shows. Its flexible configuration also means it can be transformed into a synagogue on Saturdays. With offices situated above the day centre, an active frontage has been created on Golders Green Road, enhancing security and creating a landmark for the local area.
The residential care home and extra care homes wrap around the quieter side streets with their own separate entrances. We were keen to avoid long corridors in these contexts and introduced apartments clustered around lounge and kitchen areas – facilitating a sense of community amongst residents whilst also improving the amount of natural light coming in.
The Maurice and Vivienne Wohl development has taken a site that was well-used and well-loved and transformed it into a campus that is now a focus of the daily lives for local older Jewish people – providing high quality facilities that serve the community.