Village life is safe and well at ExtraCare Longbridge
The £48 million retirement village, ExtraCare Longbridge, is an important part of developer St. Modwen’s £1billion Longbridge regeneration project in Birmingham.
Carefully designed to encourage and support an independent and enriching lifestyle, the village opened in July 2017 and provides affordable and flexible living options for senior citizens. The development offers 260 one and two bed apartments - 132 for shared ownership, 76 for outright sale and 52 for affordable rent. Each apartment has its own hallway, living room, one or two bedrooms, kitchen and shower room. Around a third of residents receive help with care, including significant assessed care needs such as dementia.
ExtraCare Longbridge sits between the older established housing and the new family housing. The village concept has real meaning here – a place where people can come together, make friends, socialize and learn new skills. The development offers a range of communal facilities including a village hall, bar and bistro, gym, IT suite, hair and beauty salon and a shop. Up to 50 activities are on offer including choir singing, IT, wheelchair aerobics and gardening.
Director Wendy Griffin of project architects Nicol Thomas, “We have specified Rockpanel on a number of projects so were confident it would work for ExtraCare Longbridge. It offered a cost-effective way of introducing contemporary design interest to the façade.
Architecturally, projecting volumes and overhangs create sheltered exteriors. The facades, soffits and fascias, along with specially designed window details and balcony enclosures, are clad entirely with Rockpanel. Wendy Griffin, “Combining Rockpanel Woods with brick and render represents the old and the new coming together – symbolic of the regeneration of the wider Longbridge area. Along with this are the proven technical qualities of the material, which include fire resistance, durability and low maintenance, all of which were important elements within the brief.
The particular products used here include Rockpanel Woods in FS-Xtra grade; Carbon Oak and Alder, along with Rockpanel Colours Durable RAL 7004. According to Nicol Thomas, the use of these colours and textures unifies the design, whilst creating depth and variation in appearance, “The variety and pallet of materials help to reduce the overall visual mass of the building and introduces scale, variety, balance and rhythm.”
In a project such as this, where the elderly and infirm live and which houses a mixture of multi-use spaces, fire safety is of paramount importance. Rockpanel FS-Xtra is where aesthetics and fire safety successfully align. It offers specifiers the opportunity to explore new possibilities and realise their vision in the knowledge that the design will satisfy European fire class A2-s1,d0.
Further advantages of using Rockpanel include low lifecycle maintenance and the availability of a wide range of standard sizes. This allows for advance design planning, and ease of installation, leading to significant cost savings over competitor products. Economy is an important factor for project owners, ExtraCare, who are a charitable trust.