Emma McDermott, SRA Architects, talks about Bridgemead’s New Wing

  1. Why do we need a new wing?

Your original requirement was to protect the building from flooding, to relocate those residents and services from the lower ground level and upgrade the existing home to provide a dementia friendly environment. We knew that this would not be a simple scheme; in fact, we looked at about ten different options. Flooding is a major technical constraint on the existing building. We wanted to meet all the requirements in the original brief, and create a very good scheme that you would be proud of.


  1. How did you design the new wing?

Instead of just extending the existing two wings, and adding more accommodation, we needed to understand why the home works so well as it is and not interfere with that success. With the trustees we visited several other care homes to identify what designs work to create a homely, bright environment, and what is less successful.


  1. What did you learn from your research?

We realized that long corridors are not only tiring for staff but also can be confusing for people living with dementia. The new wing enables the dining room (the hub of the home) to be easily accessed by everyone; and we also provided a circular route all around the home on two levels.

We discovered that the quality of light is very important to people living with dementia. South facing rooms create shadows which can be scary to people with dementia. The new extension will be brighter, with a big roof light, it will be washed in a light from the north as this casts fewer shadows: the perfect light for painters in fact! We are also able increase the amount of ventilation so it does not become stuffy.


    4. How many rooms are in the new wing?

The new extension has 12 rooms altogether, all en-suite, so all the residents who are now on the lower ground floor can be re-located. Their rooms will look out on to the new garden, and the family rooms will have a balcony with a river view, so everyone can enjoy it.


  1. Why is it so expensive?

Unfortunately, all building work is expensive! We have designed the most cost effective solution for a site which has many challenges and constraints. The cost of the project includes moving the plant room (including the boilers), carrying out complicated ground works, building the extension and providing the flood defences. As a result, the home will be protected from flooding and upgraded.


  1. What will it look like?

Bridgemead is already a contemporary award-winning building. We did not want to design an extension that simply tried to copy the existing building – it would have detracted from the original design and looked like an add-on. So instead we have designed a contemporary extension which is sympathetic to the original iconic building. We are pleased with it as are B&NES’ urban designers – we hope you like it too.


  1. Have you enjoyed the design process?

Yours was a very challenging but really interesting brief. Although we have worked for all sorts of charities we had not designed a care home before – so we needed to do our research thoroughly and fully understand what you needed. It has been a year-long project to complete the design.  The Bridge Care trustees have been very thorough and a great client to work with. The neighbours have been very friendly as well, we were careful to make sure our design did not obstruct their views. Now we are keen to get the builders started.