Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre

This is the award entry for Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre , entered by AFL Architects in the Primary Care (New Build) category

The Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre integrates health, social and community services

Completed this year, the new health centre in Altrincham - an integration of health, social and community space - has already been recognised as a step-change in the approach to NHS primary healthcare.

Not only does the centre bring together three GP practices, but it also incorporates a library, pharmacy and café within an overall footprint of 2,300sq m.

The new building sits within a complex urban site and within a conservation area and will provide psychological and associated facilities.

It is intended to relieve pressure on the various local mental health trusts.

"The Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Centre is an exemplar scheme for the NHS nationally and definitely the way forward for delivering services”, said Adam Gross, director of Citybranch.

“It has been said that the building visually appears far too nice for a public NHS building, so it is incredible that the team has been able to deliver such a scheme not only cost-efficiently, but designed in a way that far exceeds our expectations."

The design rationale was for a vibrant, publicly-focused building that sits comfortably within its urban context.

Naturally, such a project presented architectural challenges, including engaging with a large group of stakeholders on their space needs and ensuring the design complemented its context.

Working on behalf of the developers, AFL Architects liaised with Trafford CCG, the head tenant, along with community tenants, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust and Pennine Care Mental Health Trust, bringing together diversity of requirements and delivering a model of success in the heart of a complex urban site and a civic conservation area.

Careful consideration has been given to the scale, massing and proportions of the new development, which embraces retained features of the existing hospital.

The resulting proposal is a carefully-tiered four-storey development with massing visually broken up both vertically and horizontally to maintain a scale sympathetic to the surrounding area while creating a consistent architectural language.

A primary care health centre is a fundamental pillar of a community. As such, they should integrate with the surrounding area to become true wellbeing hubs.

For this reason, the development required significant consultation with English Heritage along with local planning departments, the result of which meant the historic facade was reconstructed and incorporated into the design.

Altrincham town centre is undergoing significant development to transform it into a high-quality community hub, with its historic market hall at the heart.

Located directly adjacent to the market hall, the expectation is for the wellbeing hub to act as a catalyst for the urban regeneration of the area, providing high-class patient care and incorporating a library, pharmacy and café for the use by the whole community.

AFL worked with Planit-IE on the town centre-wide landscaping strategy, part of which involved the street next to the hub being closed to form a new square adjacent to the market. The colonnade in front of the café and library adds further to the public realm.

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