This RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning Centre is an exemplar facility for children aged 11 to 19 who are blind and partially sighted with additional severe physical and cognitive impairments. The £23.5m centre nurtures a social environment and one which minimises the impact of the children’s disabilities and meets their needs in a holistic way.
It comprises a 60-bedroom children's home arranged within 10, six-bedroom houses and a new 70-pupil secondary school. All teaching areas are at ground floor linking through a double height central atrium space. Staff and training facilities are located at first floor above the specialist teaching block. Outdoor amenities include two play areas and gardens for each individual house.
The RNIB’s aspiration was to create a family of modern buildings which would be comfortable and practical but yet uplifting and engaging for all its users. The challenge was to encourage the independence of the children whilst in the confines of the scheme but without losing a sense of reality when they ventured into the real world.
The completed first phase consists of a school, an administration building and a cluster of five homes. We had to consider three building types, respond to three different client briefs and provide three individual concepts.