Ripple Retreat is a purpose-built sanctuary for children affected by cancer. Set up and funded by ‘It’s Good 2 Give,’ a charity set up by Lynne and Ian McNicoll, Ripple Retreat caters for young cancer patients and their families and provides practical support to them and those affected by the disease. The charity’s ultimate goal was to create a safe, relaxed and enjoyable escape for families from the challenges of their illness, within reasonable distance of hospitals and medical treatment.
The project was accomplished by the work of architects Kettle Collective, contractors John Dennis & Company, Cundall Engineering, Harley Haddow Engineering and Project Manager Tom Greig. The design team on the project donated all their time to the charity.
Situated on the southern bank of Loch Venachar, the Retreat captures an impressive aspect, with beautiful views across the calming water to the surrounding hills. The waterside location inspired the design concept for the retreat which features a rippling roof that moves from the water’s edge, turns back on itself and becomes a horizontal plane that wraps the living space.
Expanses of glass connect the interior of the house to the tranquil setting, whilst also providing important visibility to indoor and outdoor play areas. The setting inspired the materiality of the rippling roof, which is clad in pigmento blue zinc to capture the changing light, creating a relationship between the building and the changing ripples of the loch.
Speaking to Premier Construction, Tony Kettle, Design Principal at Kettle Collective said: “The rippling roof means that the children’s bedroom is lower in height, the parents’ bedroom is higher in height, the kitchen is slightly lower and it builds up to the living room and to the outside world. The roof has allowed us to vary the atmosphere inside the building as well as create a beautiful shape.
“There is also lots of glazing which means that you are close to nature and the loch with all of the rooms having views to the sunsets over Loch Venachar. The glazing goes all the way from the roof and down to the floor and it really makes you feel like you are close to nature.”
The Ripple Retreat is also a model of a sustainable building both in its layout and specification. Low carbon energy will be produced using an air source heat transfer system that will provide heating and hot water to the building. The building has also been designed to be naturally ventilated, and will not require additional cooling.
Those staying at Ripple Retreat stay from Saturday morning, through to the following Thursday noon. Accommodation includes three bedrooms: a twin, double and a single. All are barrier free, making them accessible to individuals regardless of mobility challenges with the single room including a wet room with wheelchair accessible sink. The kitchen includes a fridge freezer, oven, microwave and dishwasher for residents’ use, with an induction hob and hot water Quooker tap, all ensuring the highest standard of comfort during guests stay. A height adjustable unit with induction hob and sink has also been included to allow easy access for wheelchair users.
“We have had very positive feedback,” said Tony. “It was very well received. At the retreat there is a comments book and it’s lovely to hear the stories because you have small children who are undergoing treatment so these families are really getting a chance to escape for a while. The environment is nothing like home or hospital so it does take them out of their everyday and gives them something special. Personally, I think that is why we did this project, to try and help people and we are relieved and delighted that they really enjoy it.”
The project has recently been shortlisted for a 2018 RIAS Award. The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has announced a 25 strong shortlist for its 2018 awards with the winners of this year’s awards announced at a ceremony on 20th June 2018.
Tony added: “The nomination is great because it also helps the charity, It’s Good to Give, and is something else that they can use to raise their profile. But for me the most important thing is those comments in the visitor’s book. We didn’t do this to get any awards from architects. We did this to help children and families and to try and improve their world. Reading the visitors book is uplifting and that is what it’s all about. It would be a bonus to get something from the RIAS and our peers.”