Local Authority: Redbridge
Year of Intervention: 1996
Summary: Former Claybury Hospital, Redbridge: Refurbishment and careful new design of Grade II listed building for re-use as a residential development.
Description: This vast complex of buildings, covering 112ha, was constructed in 1890 for the London County Council as one of a number of mental asylums which ringed the capital.
Issue: One hundred years later, the 'Care in the Community' programme signalled a new approach to mental illness. Across the country many of the large mental hospitals became redundant and in need of a new use. The joint National Health Service/English Heritage guidance document Historic Buildings and the Health Service foresaw the difficulties by setting out best practice for the management and disposal of hospital buildings.
Strategy: Claybury Hospital closed in 1996 but for the preceding 12 months the Area Health Authority, its professional advisers, Redbridge Council and English Heritage met regularly to develop a strategy which would secure the future of this important group of grade II listed buildings. The final scheme included 390 luxury apartments in the listed core and over 500 new build luxury houses on the site. The communal buildings were converted to provide a resident's Health and Fitness Club including an indoor swimming pool (pictured).
Outcome: The outcome of this forward planning is a stunning residential development in a mixture of refurbished historic buildings and carefully designed new blocks. The historic landscape, originally laid out by Sir Humphry Repton, has been sensitively managed and new community facilities provided. All properties now enjoy the benefit of a restored Repton parkland setting. This case study illustrates that Victorian civic and public buildings have huge potential for conversion into new uses. By anticipating changes of use and forming early partnerships with developers and others, what could have become a problem turned into a whole new community. Not only is re-use far more sustainable than demolition, it ensures places keep their historic identity. This is positive for communities and newcomers alike.
Keywords: Design in context, Re-use, Sustainability
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