An intergenerational facility which combines an early learning and childcare centre for 128 children and 27 older person’s independent-living homes have been submitted for approval in Edinburgh.
The proposals for Powederhall regeneration project, the first of their kind in Scotland, have been put forward by the City of Edinburgh Council and offer health and wellbeing benefits for the residents, as well new learning and social opportunities for children attending the nursery.
The building will provide high-quality spaces that are comfortable, healthy and consume minimal energy, which will create an optimal learning-through-play environment for the children and help to address the acute housing needs of the city’s aging population.
All homes have been designed to allow residents to age in place and live within their community for as long as possible and all of the properties will be fully wheelchair-adapted, accessible via two lifts and will have storage for mobility scooters and bikes.
A porch will connect the nursery and residential entrances, which will provide opportunities for chance encounters between the two user groups on their daily activities.
The new early learning and childcare centre, which will be managed by the council run Broughton Primary School, will allow for the existing nursery provision to relocate to the new facility, which will provide more childcare places for the local community and open up more space for the primary school.
Also, the new centre will have a multipurpose room and a new outdoor educational space for Broughton Primary School, which will be available for public use via the school lets system.
Community consultation has been at the heart of the project and has helped shape the proposals from the earliest opportunity and the architects have worked with the local community, stakeholders and the council to collaboratively develop a place brief for the wider site before any design work had commenced.
Councillor Ian Perry, the Convenor of the City of Edinburgh Council’s, Education, Children and Families Committee was quoted as saying: “This entire Powderhall development will bring fantastic benefits to the local community, creating great spaces to live, work and play, while being safe and carbon neutral.
“It’s great to see that through the new early learning and childcare centre, more children in the area will be able to access nursery spaces. This will allow us to meet our commitments to making early years provision more flexible to fit family needs and deliver 1,140 hours a year of free early learning and childcare for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds.”
Commenting, project architect, Nicola McLachlan said: “The recent pandemic has reinforced the significant and detrimental impact that unsustainable living and social conditions can have on the quality of our lives, heightening our sense of accountability.
“The Powderhall mixed-use masterplan is reflective of an ambitious client and a participatory place-based design approach that has developed innovative and holistic living possibilities, taking proactive steps towards ensuring future communities are both socially and environmentally sustainable and successfully rooted with their surrounding neighbours.
“Phase two of the masterplan focuses on sharing, agency and autonomy in the context of increasing age demographics, rising levels of loneliness and takes cognisance of the significant shortage of older persons homes, particularly within urban areas.
“The proposals create a purpose-built intergenerational building where residents and nursery children can coexist, nurturing positive relationships between different ages, whilst creating a variety of spaces where people can enjoy interaction and sharing space and time together. The project marks a significant step towards designing with an agenda where wellbeing and improved quality of life for all generations is our measure.”
Subject to planning approval, the council hopes to start on site with the building and associated works this summer.