Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) and replacement for Headley Court at Stanford Hall
The DNRC is not only the largest collection of Classical buildings to be built in this country since the days of Lutyens, but is significant in its innovative approach in relation to the way the buildings themselves are used to help in treating and healing patients. Unlike most medical buildings put up today, it recognizes the significant role that beauty in architecture plays, alongside medicine and technology, in creating the right environment to help in the successful rehabilitation of patients.
It is extremely rare in the world of medicine today for a medical facility such as a hospital to be designed by discussing the sort of architecture that would be required to shape a healing environment. The DNRC is unusual in that respect in that the brief was conceived by considering what the architecture of the buildings should be like so that the environment would contribute, alongside medicine and technology, to the rehabilitation of patients. In this respect the DNRC has been in a position to lead the field.
John Simpson Architects was chosen to design the buildings for the new DNRC because we specialise in designing traditional Architecture and our approach using contemporary techniques has allowed us to serve the needs of society in the twenty-first century while at the same time creating places that are attractive and pleasant for people to use. Our buildings are contextual, designed to be a natural extension of their surroundings, and in the case of the DNRC draw inspiration from the arcadian tranquillity of the 18th century Stanford Hall Estate and park. Our aim was for the buildings and gardens at the DNRC to unfold bit by bit so as to reduce the apparent scale of the facility, with every part having an individual character for patients to discover for themselves a place where they can find the tranquility they need. Inevitably, the result is a very bespoke and complex set of buildings.
The total size of the project when all the departments and facilities are added up is roughly 40,000 square metres of floor space. Size alone, if inappropriately handled, could hinder achieving a scale for the development that is sufficiently humane for patients to relate to without it becoming overwhelmingly institutional in character. We preserved the human scale. This makes the DNRC feel friendly, rather than threatening. Our approach provides maximum flexibility, allowing more space to be added piecemeal, as and when needed. This is important for any medical facility. Moreover, the type of casualties that the DNRC is dealing with depends on the type of conflict that the military are involved in. As such it is designed to allow for flexibility between departments as patient types vary and technology moves forward.
A formal opening of the Defence facility is anticipated to take place during 2019