Associated Architects has submitted plans to build a ‘landscape-driven’ purpose-built dog rescue and welfare centre’ in the West Midlands.

The roofscape of the proposed new dogs' home
The roofscape of the proposed new dogs' home

The new facility for Birmingham Dogs’ Home will accommodate approximately 150 lost and abandoned dogs, as well as providing much-needed external space – designed by One Creative Environments – ‘for exercise and enrichment’. Ali Potterton, associate director at One Creative Environments, said, ‘The landscape-led approach has successfully provided, we believe, a sensitive response to the site’s location and landscape character. The development sits quietly within the existing landscape with low impact and ensures a “light touch” on its surroundings. It also applies many of the principles of the “healing landscape”, more commonly associated with human health, to create an inspirational, welcoming and calm setting for the well-being of the dogs.

Since 2008, the number of stray dogs collected by local authorities has increased, placing a greater demand on the charity, which was established in 1892. Two centres in the West Midlands, at Birmingham and Sunnyside near Wolverhampton, currently care for 4,500 dogs per year. The Birmingham centre, based in a three-storey building on New Bartholomew Street, Digbeth, has decided to relocate due to the lack of external space for exercising and training. The centre’s staff hope that the move will allow them to invest in new facilities that will, in turn, support the future development and expansion of their charitable work.

New facilities will include kennel and exercise areas, veterinary facilities and a behavioural suite. In addition, education rooms will support the outreach work of the charity and its links with the local community. These features will help the charity to improve its vital work of rescuing and rehoming these unfortunate former pets.

The site, located on former agricultural land on Catherine-de-Barnes Lane, was chosen for its semi-rural location and proximity to excellent transport links. The site layout has been designed specifically to create a calm environment, which will minimise stress-related barking.

The design is landscape driven, says Associated Architects, ‘employing a low-impact, light-touch approach used throughout the 12.45 acres of the site’. The use of subtle ground modelling has, it says, helped to create a seamless transition between structure and landscape. The single-storey building has a grass roof to minimise its visual impact, and ‘a muted palette of materials has been carefully chosen, to suit the site context’.

The building will have very low energy demands. The design itself approaches zero carbon standards, achieved through a rigorous passive design strategy. Sophisticated hydro-bath modelling of the kennel blocks has informed a strategy of natural ventilation. Through the use of sustainable materials, high levels of insulation and minimal energy consumption, the building is designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

It is anticipated that the development will take around a year to build, with work starting in early 2014.

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