Design draws on ‘The Secret Garden’

Alder Hey
The winning design for Alder Hey

BBUK Studio has won a competition to design the gardens of The Alder Centre for Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust together with architect AHMM . The Alder Centre is the only facility within the NHS that provides a nationwide telephone helpline as well as bereavement counselling for families who have lost a child, along with counselling for trust staff.

The theme of the entry was ‘The Secret Garden; taking inspiration from the Frances Hodgson Burnett book where a walled garden aids the healing of two children. The landscape surrounding the proposed building has a wall around it on the street side to
protect the privacy of the users but on the boundary that connects to the neighbouring
Springfield Park is bounded with a ha-ha so Alder Centre users can look out but views into
the site are more oblique.

The outlook of the building was critical in that each of the rooms needed to have a
relationship with the garden and landscape beyond whilst also maintaining privacy for
building users. A series of small intimate spaces were designed to relate each of the
counselling rooms these are protected with hedges that appear to extend the internal walls
into the gardens. Two larger central gardens, to the east and west of the communal rooms at the heart of the building, are more open in aspect; here there are lawns and a low-level rill that picks up surface water and drains to a rain garden at the bottom of the ha ha.

Harriet Bourne, director of BBUK, said, ‘we are very honoured to have the chance to be working for The AlderCentre, a place that helps people cope with their unimaginable loss,  and only hope that we are able to make a small difference with our proposals to make a sensitive, comforting and welcoming garden sanctuary’.


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