Starting Point

Plan of the Orchard Centre

The Alzheimer’s Respite Centre was completed in 2009, for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland. Níall McLaughlin Architects collaborated extensively with the ASI as it sought to conceptualise, commission, construct and inhabit its first new building. The Centre was to be a test case for future developments, both in its successes and its failures.

Drawing of the Orchard Centre

The Respite Centre was built in an 18th century walled kitchen garden. The garden consists of 3 terraced levels, and the building occupies the middle terrace to avoid internal level changes. This fully accessible central area was designed to allow and aid mobility for older people. An emphasis was placed on framing views of the new garden spaces created between the new construction and the old enclosing walls. Each garden is orientated in a different direction and was intended to be experienced at different times of the day. The aim was that users could move freely through these linked spaces. Routes were created through gardens and social spaces to avoid corridors and cul-de-sacs. Clerestory windows were designed to provide abundant natural light.

All of these decisions were made to create a sense of ease amongst the occupants and minimise the potential for confusion. Some of these moves were very successful: others less so. In this project, we are seeking to revisit the plan we drew; to overlay and contrast that plan with the inhabitation of the last seven years; and in doing so, to perhaps achieve a better understanding of the building we created.

To facilitate this study, we have redrawn the plan, subdividing it into rectangular areas of focus. The ratio of these rectangles of focus is set at 4:3, to mirror the aspect ratio of a fullscreen projection.