Located in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, The Thistle Foundation is a charitable organisation who offer support to those with disabilities, enabling them to live independent lives, in their own homes. CCG has led the construction of their new facility which is situated at the heart of the original Thistle Foundation development, now a designated Conservation Area, called the Tudsbery Centre.
The former Tudbsery Centre became a central community hub for the people of Craigmillar that laterally became unfit for purpose and therein lost its ability to cater for its popularity. The Thistle Foundation conducted a thorough assessment on the viability of a number of redevelopment options which included refurbishment, the redevelopment of the redundant Tudsbery Centre (in the centre of the estate), the replacement of the existing Tudsbery Centre and relocation to another site out with the Thistle Estate and Craigmillar. As such, the replacement of the existing Tudsbery Centre was considered the preferred solution, being both financially and functionally efficient whilst also having the added benefit of re-establishing the estate’s founding body at its heart. After reviewing how the existing building could be adapted, it became clear that it was un-economical to reshape and so the new Centre of Wellbeing, designed by 3DReid, was created – a new building that seeks to welcome people, that has a more permeable public realm, sensitively addressing the adjacent Robin Chapel, and offers greater, more secure garden space to the rear.
As a continuation of making the Centre for Health and Wellbeing a more welcoming facility to visit, it had to be comfortable inside as well. As such, the layout of the building has been designed to maximise its ability to cater for the local community and those who come to visit, taking consideration of ease of circulation within a highly legible plan. Upon entry, you are welcomed into a stunning central ‘lounge’ area that is encapsulated by a double height ‘Hub’ space that offers rooms for consultation, training and office accommodation for Charity’s staff. The flexibility and future adaptability of these rooms was crucial to their design and can be opened up to the wider space or closed by partitions depending on their use. The centre is a facility that is dedicated to service the community of Craigmillar and beyond and it does so by offering additional rooms for people to interact with the Charity as well as other community members in places such as the gym, with customised equipment, activity zones which are used for such things as Tai Chi and of course utilising the private rear garden space for outdoor classes when there is better weather.
Through extensive use of timber cladding, both inside and out, the project offers a warm and inviting environment for diverse range of visitors to the building, many of whom suffer from anxiety-related conditions. Crafting a non-institutional and friendly presence was instrumental in ensuring that the built environment did not compound these and that the design of the Centre remained completely aligned to the core ethos of the Charity. Pressure treated with a blend of preservative and pigmentation, the timber cladding will retain its current hue, throughout its lifespan, maintaining consistency at the interfaces between the internal and external use of the material, whilst offering a palette that tonally aligns to the building’s surroundings. Extended fins to the East and West facades help reduce solar gain and glare, to the first floor office spaces, whilst the cladding also integrates the ‘Thistle’ logo.
With the public-access facilities all situated at ground level, the office accommodation occupies the upper floor of the building, offering staff a degree of privacy, whilst still maintaining a connectedness, through the introduction of full height screens overlooking the central double-height space. Punctuating the open-plan office space, honeycombed acrylic panels have been utilised to form ‘quiet pods’ – spaces in which more sensitive discussions and phone calls can take place – introducing concentrated blocks of colour, aligned to the core branding of the organisation.
Key to the success of the building has been the strong collaboration between the Client and the Design Team. With stakeholders made an integral part of the design process, at every step of the way, this continuous focus and involvement has ensured that the core ethos of the organisation is fully supported, enhanced and encapsulated within the resulting scheme.
The Thistle Foundation
Edinburgh Architectural Awards 2017: ‘Wood Award’
RICS 2017 for Community Beneift