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Alzheimer’s Plant Science and Respite Centre

A project located on the edge condition of Liverpool’s heritage docklands post industrial landscape. The program combines medical research, botanical science and respite care to provide a holistic treatment centre for Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Currently chronically underfunded, botanical Alzheimer’s and Dementia research could provide a technological and industrial catalyst to bring prosperity and production to the derelict docklands.

The chosen site is on the north banks of the Leeds to Liverpool canal, previously one of the most important transport routes from the Liverpool Docklands into the heart of the then industrial northern Britain. The site plan shows the change in density across the rail viaduct which runs northsouth. To the west lies the historic warehouses of Liverpool’s Docklands, to the east is 1980s low density housing.

The site is at the bottom of a lock run carrying barges up and out of Liverpool. The surrounding low density light industrial units are a small pocket of manufacturing output in the docklands area.

Workshops producing pleasure barges, car repairs and sheet metal working give out onto Lightbody Street, thus the proposed scheme is planned so as to shelter its occupants from noise, while still contributing to this dynamic productive street-life.

The North West Conurbation represents the largest concentrated population in the United Kingdom after London.

The geographic source of the Industrial Revolution, the area has been responsible to many of the technological advances which have extended the average life expectancy.

The retired population of this region is growing rapidly and with it is the rise of conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Investment and planning critically  needed now to support and research cures for these debilitating illnesses.

Galanthamine can be extracted in high yields from the bulbs of the species ‘Narcissus’, commonly known as the Daffodil and Snowdrop.

Galanthamine can be synthesized in lab conditions but with an ever growing need it is not a sustainable source of the drug.

Research into the extraction from Narcissus could form a major breakthrough in the treatment and management of Alzheimer’s and Dementia for the hundreds of thousands of sufferers.

As the programme of the scheme will combine respite, plant growing, drug research and medicine, I looked at a typology which first accommodated such a mix of functions.

The Monastery combines early forms off such a programme, and I was interested in how they typically did so through the circulation between spaces.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia patents often want to walk and wander, and the monastic plan allows them to do so, moving through a series of spaces of different scale and function, while being safely enclosed and never far from their origin.

I developed an architectural approach to the project which was based around the cloister and courtyard, the hall or boathouse and a series of smaller spaces.

The site is on a lock-run which takes canal traffic east and away from the docklands.

In section, this creates in interesting relationship where level access to the scheme can be gained from a number of points on the landscape.

The building splits its programme vertically as well and horizontally, giving the patents the higher priority, with level access from the street, they move around the building above the researcher, and are able to view from above the activity of the Centre.

The building steps into the site, giving level access from Lightbody Street to the north and is in keeping with the two story scale of the adjacent warehouses.

A timber and steel frame is predominantly internally clad in white oiled plywood and externally clad in charred Siberian larch rain screen and copper bronze sheet.