Smile – your home loves you
Steve Batson, Studio Director at SGP’s Leeds office, introduces Smile Homes®, a new concept in person-centred homes for people with complex needs.
It began with an idea that resonated; resonated with me, the healthcare team, with SGP’s ethos of We Care, We Challenge, We Deliver.
In 2014 David Adams, Chief Executive of ADS Independent Living Solutions, approached me with this ground-breaking idea of using modern methods of construction, combined with technology, to create non-institutional intelligent buildings for independent living; homes to support people with complex physical or mental illnesses. David knew, I knew, my team all knew people who had different needs but were living in homes that, while not exactly bad, were not allowing our friends to be as independent, as healthy, as happy as they could be.
David: I first came across this crisis a few years ago; my best friend had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at just 26 years old. I also have friends and family members, young and old, that live with chronic conditions, physical challenges and crippling mental health issues. Their needs are all very different, but I would say that they do have one thing very clearly in common: a fierce wish to stay independent in a house which is their home. I think this is the case for everyone – but for many this isn’t a choice.”
I think of the concept in automotive terms. Manufacturers have base models of their cars which individual clients can customise to their own exact requirements. Smile Homes® is the residential version of this, focusing on a section of society whose needs are acknowledged, written about, commiserated with, but never met consistently and seldom locally.
We set to work to create a new form of modality of care that delivers on the concepts of “Right Place”, “Right Space” and “Right Support.” We integrated “hard modular” building systems and “soft modular” digital systems in a structure and layout that would move beyond the generic options of providing room for a wheelchair and maybe a hoist, to enable the space to be configured and personalised to match an individual’s own needs, according to how their condition affects them.
David and I were keen to use MMC as the basis for the construction. I’d worked on modular projects before, such as a 60 bed ward at Bradford Royal Infirmary which we completed in six months. I knew some of its limitations, but also the great benefits the methodology could bring to the project, such as the speed of delivery, ease of on-site installation, high quality, and efficient materials.
Working closely with David, we built a 70 sqm prototype in Revit, focusing on three key areas: adaptability, practicality, and home.
This proof of concept and the CGIs and floorplans that developed from it, became the tools that made the idea visible to stakeholders such as potential manufacturers, investors, and clients and was key to winning a Sustainable Innovation Fund grant from Innovate UK. I introduced David to Reds10, an MMC fabricator acknowledged as a leader in producing SMART, low carbon modular spaces. The prototype, which will act as a demonstrator unit and pilot for how the design acts in real life, has been manufactured at their site.
We are incredibly proud to have worked with David to bring his idea to life, to create a structure that can be easily adapted to suit the needs of any individual client, supporting them to live their best lives in their own community, in a bright, spacious, good-looking building that says HOME.
If that doesn’t say – We Care, We Challenge, We Deliver – I don’t know what does.