Set within the conservation area of Lichfield, Chapter House is a 38 dwelling residential development designed for retirement living. The design aims to provide high quality internal and external living spaces for its residents while at the same time sensitively responding to the area’s historic setting and the character of the conservation area.
Through an examination of the area’s historic context, the scheme responds to a number of existing key elements in order to establish connections with its surroundings and celebrate their significance. Within the site’s boundary is a Monks Walk (dating back to the early Middle Ages), a long linear garden lovingly maintained by local volunteers. The design proposes to enhance the Monks Walk by extending it into a new shared courtyard containing generous amenity spaces for residents and visitors.
A Medieval Franciscan Friary, which consisted of a monastic church and cloisters used to occupy part of the site. Demolished during the mid 1500s, the former building’s expressive gables, integrated landscape and cloistered monastic court provide a powerful precedent and inspiration for the proposed development’s spatial arrangement and architectural language.
A distinct gable and colonnaded façade is designed for the building’s new frontage marking the site’s main arrival space. A clear pedestrian route beginning at the arrival space aims to provide a spatial sequence from the town’s centre through the building via a landscaped courtyard towards the Monks Walk.
The residential building is oriented towards an existing historic wall in order to create an attractive courtyard that mimics the tranquil and sheltered setting of monastic cloisters. The proposed dwellings consist of one and two bedroom apartments across a range of sizes. Each unit is designed to meet guidelines for accessibility in order to meet the needs of its elderly residents.
The building’s architectural language draws upon ideas of historic walled gardens through its external envelope, which is formed by a strong and solid brick skin that wraps around the accommodation forming a new relationship with the existing wall along the site’s boundary.
The overall development includes a large ground level lounge area for residents with views across the landscaped courtyard. A small visitor’s flat is also provided for guests of residents wishing to stay. A range of outdoor landscaped areas are provided to encourage residents to do some gardening, go for a walk or simply sit on a bench.