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AHR-designed Greenwood Centre houses the first Centre for Independent Living for the Camden community

AHR-designed Greenwood Centre houses the first Centre for Independent Living for the Camden community
Written by Amy

The Greenwood Centre, part of Camden Council’s Community Investment Programme (CIP), their plan for investing over £1 billion in building schools, homes and community facilities in Camden, is the first of its kind in the borough, with its services enriching lives since its opening earlier this year.

Designed by multi-award winning architecture and building consultancy practice AHR, the £18m centre which houses Camden’s first Centre for Independent Living (CIL) is run by disabled people for disabled people, offering specialist advice and support, opportunities for professional development, and spaces to learn new skills, be active, form relationships and grow in independence.

WaiLun Ho, director at AHR said, “The Greenwood Centre is a unique and inspiring place and seeing it in use is really rewarding. We enjoyed working closely with Camden Council, care specialists and those who use the centre services to develop the design, and the diverse communication needs within our user groups led us to tailor new methods of sharing our ideas. This has enabled the centre to truly honour the community’s aspirations, and we are very proud of this comfortable, safe and welcoming resource.”

Greenwood Centre brings under one roof a number of key services previously spread across several sites, providing support with mental ill-health and learning disabilities.

The CIL has been designed with accessibility, security and navigability as drivers. The colourful brise-soleil is easy to identify and recognise, and a deep canopy provides protection from the elements for those entering the building from vehicles. A clear visual pathway leads from the street through to the reception and on into the heart of the centre, where a three-storey lightwell acts as a bright and airy focal point and maximises the space’s open feel. Each specialised service is united on one floor, allowing for ease and efficiency in locating and accessing the facilities and support available.

The building’s range of flexible learning and activity spaces includes a multi-purpose hall, meeting and interview rooms, a training kitchen and café, IT resources, fitness and physiotherapy spaces, arts and craft studios and a music room, and on each level, there are landscaped gardens for various uses. A demonstration flat will showcase new technologies that can assist in independent living. A number of the spaces can also be hired for use by the wider community, allowing people who wouldn’t ordinarily use the centre to discover it, and consolidating its presence and identity within Camden.

The CIL constructed by Kier was designed to BREEAM Excellent, with extensive use of natural light and ventilation, photovoltaic panels and a roof garden. The building’s high-quality materials, futureproof design and adaptable spaces will allow the centre to remain a vibrant, inclusive support hub for years to come.

The Greenwood Centre was awarded Project of the Year Under £20m at the 2019 Construction News Awards.

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