Amanda Harris and Andrew Jones
20 Oct 2023
Over the course of the last 11 months, our team have been working alongside our client Everyturn to reimagine a series of landscape spaces associated with three care homes in Gateshead. All three schemes looked to introduce significant improvements to planting, whilst reusing existing materials where possible.
With the last scheme coming to an end, the team have reflected on the importance of incorporating creative design, sustainability, and health and wellbeing into our designs.
Sustainability was a strong focus within the designs, which encouraged utilising the existing features as much as possible. Each site had valuable attributes such as paving, mature trees, and raised planters that were incorporated into the design, and new hard surfaces were designed to minimise waste by either following existing layouts, or reusing existing materials. Engaging with staff and residents allowed us to identify which existing specimen plants were sentimental or important, so we could incorporate them into the redesign.
The intention at Briarwood was to make it more inviting, whilst providing a place to relax for residents, staff and visitors. This was accomplished with colourful planting around a rockery scheme that is in keeping with an older generation, creating a homely feel. The seating was purposefully set back from the main route, to provide privacy whilst benefiting from the full extent of the sunlight on site. Some of the existing features were softened, with climbing plants and green roofs creating a much more welcoming feel.
Alderwood and Pinetree, both being courtyards, were more focused on the residents and creating a safe space for them to relax and be outdoors. Multiple opportunities for seating were incorporated into the design, combined with a mindful approach to accessibility. Shelters over the seating ensures that even on a cold winter’s day, the benefits of the courtyard can be enjoyed. Pinetree also now has a deck which doubles up as a stage for live entertainment!
Within all three schemes, scented planting was located near seating to enhance the calming experience of the outdoors, combined with numerous evergreen plants ensuring all three schemes have year-round colour, interest, and structure. For the greener fingered residents and staff, raised planters featured in both courtyards, allowing everyone to be involved and enjoy the upkeep of their new garden. Bird and bee boxes were located around the courtyards to create a soothing backdrop of natural sounds, promoting relaxation and mindfulness.
Research shows that spending as little as 10 minutes a day outdoors can improve the mental health of those suffering with anxiety, depression and dementia. Coupled with the health benefits of getting your daily dose of vitamin D, the importance of utilising the courtyards is key and beneficial for visitors, residents, and staff.
It has been a privilege to have been involved in this extremely rewarding project and the impact of refreshing each individual site has bought a positive change for so many, with lots of incredible feedback from the residents and staff.
Alex Slack, Head of Estates & Sustainability:
At Everyturn we recognise the crucial role bio-diversity and nature can have on combating the effects of the climate crisis whilst also having a positive impact on mental health.
In Autumn 2022, we invited Southern Green Landscape Architects to visit one of our older persons services to help frame our thinking around green space improvements. We chose Southern Green for two reasons, one, because they are located a mere 100 yards from our Pinetree Lodge Service in Low Fell and two, because we had observed with interest their amazing work at the Foss Park Mental Health hospital in York.
What began as a brainstorm soon developed into a tripart redevelopment project encompassing our Alderwood, Briarwood and Pinetree Lodge services. Southern Green understood what we wanted to achieve by asking all the right questions, they held consultations with our service managers and listened intently to our responses.
They worked with us every step of the way and adopted a partnership mentality demonstrating our own values throughout. They even gave us volunteering time to assist with site clearance.
The results have surpassed even our most modest expectations, our service users, colleagues and visitors have all welcomed the improvements. My personal thanks go to Amanda Harris, Andrew Jones and Liam Haggarty who can be rightly proud of their achievements. We must also acknowledge the project team at Gavin Jones Ltd for their skilful execution of the brief.
David Lackenby, service manager for Alderwood:
“The redevelopment of our internal courtyard at Alderwood has been nothing short of transformational, a once cluttered and hazardous space is now an oasis of calm. The inclusion of water butts, bug boxes and the curated planting scheme has really softened what was previously a harsh and uninspiring environment. Both the staff and our service users are thrilled with the end product.”