We tested concepts with various stakeholders and, after the building was opened, an event was held inviting everyone who had participated in the engagement sessions, including Voice North, the local authority and the University. The response was fantastic – they were grateful that their feedback was implemented, and overall, thought the building and the interior was outstanding.
What do they feel makes this project unique? ‘The engagement throughout the process, started by the architects, and carried out by us, was perhaps unique,’ Jacqui considers. ‘It’s rare that interior design invites such public consultation. We even had a session where we invited furniture suppliers to provide samples of chairs so we could understand the preferred features – height, with or without arms…
‘Perhaps even more unique was that we created a space that is dementia-considerate. The guidance that exists for dementia is for health or care environments, so we had to take what we thought was applicable, test it with the stakeholders, and incorporate it into the design. Everything was received really enthusiastically.’
Indeed, the furniture/finishes selection was crucial here. ‘After all, it is what people touch and feel, and engage with physically, not just observe from afar,’ Scott explains. ‘Every piece of furniture for every space was reviewed and tested before selection. An eclectic mix of furniture was selected for each space, to reinforce a non-corporate approach to the space. And then the fabrics had to be carefully selected too. We had to look beyond the standard offerings, looking at other sectors to get product inspiration.’