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The Scottish War Blinded charity has continuously evolved to meet the needs of its service users. Set up during WWI in a house in Edinburgh, the charity moved to Linburn Estate before the end of WWII to accommodate ever increasing demands. Over time, with the emphasis changing to a focus on independent living for a wider range of clients, the idea of a new centre built to encompass an extended range of facilities was born.
Page\Park architects in Glasgow won the honour of designing a building that would do just that. Asked to create an “iconic” facility of exceptional architectural quality, the inspiration for the design was found in a hand-carved Chinese dragon displayed in the original centre to symbolise the support received over many years from Hong Kong. Innovative details tailored for the needs of the visually impaired service users, including design elements such as an abundance of light, contrasting textures and ultra-low thresholds, are incorporated into the 750m2 internal space.
The exterior of the building is fringed with a timber deck, varying in width to provide both access to the garden from the light-filled workshops and, in areas where the roof dips to a generous overhang, a sheltered veranda for the residents. Short lengths of Russwood’s Scotlarch® Gripdeck form an attractive design curving alongside the sinuous outline of the timber clad building and ensuring the safe passage of the clientele. Rather unusually, the deck uses the heartwood of Scottish Larch, which provides natural durability and weathers alongside the anti-slip insert to a uniform silvery grey. These beautiful hues of natural wood complement the subtle finish of the timber cladding.
This attention to detail within Page\Park’s design is also apparent on the cream-stained Scotlarch® cladding on the exterior of the centre. Divergence from the industry standard thickness of board, from 20 to 25mm, ensures the grade delivers the maximum performance benefits, and continuous lengths sourced to match the variable heights of the building create the appearance of a seamless skin of timber, with no mid-board joins marring the flow. These deviations from the norm demonstrate the architects’ understanding of working with timber as a resource, and the results are visually outstanding. Jamie Hamilton, the project architect from Page\Park commented; “We were keen to use Scottish timber and promote local suppliers. We have used Russwood before, and have always received a high quality of material from them.”
For Russwood, going the extra mile to ensure the products do the project justice is a pleasure. Having received an Accessibility Award alongside RIBA architecture and RIAS chapter design awards, it is apparent that the Linburn Centre provides both functionality and beauty with no compromise on either, and will take the charity and clients into their second century with aplomb.
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