Dorset Healthcare – Kimmeridge Court

  • area / size 9,795 sqft
  • Completed 2023
  • Location Poole, England,
  • Medical Architecture designed a thoughtful space for the Kimmeridge Court facility for Dorset Healthcare in Poole, England.

    Sited in a protected wooded glade, Kimmeridge Court has been carefully crafted to preserve the quality of its natural setting and to create a uniquely private and therapeutic environment for the treatment of patients with eating disorders.

    Meeting the need for specialist facilities
    Treatment for eating disorders be notoriously difficult, with patients often reluctant to receive effective care. This can lead to covert interference behaviours to ‘sabotage’ treatment, such as overactivity, self-induced vomiting, and weight falsification. To manage these behaviours, staff observation of patients is a critical factor of successful treatment, however, it can be a challenge to achieve this while still protecting the privacy and dignity of patients.

    Offering expanded and improved facilities including inpatient bedrooms, clinical and therapy spaces, and sensitively designed living spaces, the new building addresses these challenges, providing a supportive environment for patient recovery.

    Creating a special environment on a sensitive site
    The building is located within the grounds of the Grade II* Listed, St Ann’s Hospital on the Dorset coast, near to Sandbanks. The size and positioning of the building has been carefully crafted to have a low impact on the mature coastal trees that occupy the site and to respect the character of the surrounding area. The larger two-storey volume of the building is set back from the site boundary and adjoining road, reducing in scale to single storey as it approaches the street frontage. An irrigated root-protecting foundation design lifts the building above the roots of the large mature Category A trees, which enabled their retention remarkably close to the new building.

    The design’s response to the site context plays a vital role in the creation of a comfortable and non-clinical environment which supports recovery and provides patients with a sense that they are valued and deserving of care. The bedroom accommodation and the patient day spaces are located together on the ground floor, providing 8 inpatient beds and 2 high dependency beds. The transparent day spaces have views out to an accessible landscaped garden and the surrounding woodland, maximising the therapeutic benefit. Staff and therapy rooms occupy the first floor with a large multi-functional activity space providing spectacular views out across the tree canopy.

    Spaces that support the treatment of eating disorders
    Through close consultation with clinical staff, the facilities at Kimmeridge Court have been designed to enable patients to re-establish a positive relationship with food and exercise.

    An attractive and homely Activities of Daily Living (ADL) kitchen area allows patients to practice meal preparation and cooking in an environment that mirrors everyday life, providing the confidence to cook for themselves. Group therapy spaces are immediately accessible from the dining space to enable workshops to take place, in which feelings about eating are shared and explored. Sliding doors allow these key shared spaces to be opened-up to promote social connection, or separated for more private, focused activity.

    Whilst a private outdoor garden has been provided as a therapeutic space, it has been designed to limit opportunities for excessive exercise, a common treatment interference behaviour. If a patient’s treatment requires access to the outside space to be restricted, large areas of glazing provide expansive views to the garden from the lounge and the activity room, to maintain a connection with the outdoors.

    Design for comfort and non-intrusive observation
    Due to the restful nature of their treatment, patients are encouraged to spend time in their bedrooms. As a result, they have been designed to be a comfortable space for relaxation and reflection. Bay windows provide a place to sit and enjoy the trees of the wooded glade whilst allowing light deep into the room.

    The layout of the bedrooms, and the ward plan with a central staff base, allows observation to be maintained with efficient staffing levels, without patients feeling their privacy has been compromised. The generous corridors are designed as an additional room, providing informal places to sit, rest and chat with other patients and the clinical team. This is enhanced by careful location of rooflights to assist placemaking along circulation routes and within the staff base. Anti-ligature measures have been thoughtfully and discreetly integrated to create a calming environment resembling a domestic setting.

    Natural materials and neutral colours throughout the building interior complement the ever-present views to nature. Large areas of glazing and rooflights provide natural light to reinforce circadian rhythms and reduce the requirement for internal lighting.

    Design: Medical Architecture
    Contractor: Kier
    Photography: Richard Chivers