Extension & Renovation, Dore, Sheffield
France and Associates

France and Associates was instructed by solicitors administering the trust of a 24-year-old man – ‘JR’ – who sustained a catastrophic brain injury at birth. His legal case, JR vs. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals [2017], was heard in the High Court and (at the time) was the largest court award of compensation to a disabled claimant.
A large part of the legal argument related to the accommodation needs of JR. The brief was to provide a design that was contemporary and modern yet incorporate the numerous high-level care requirements of JR. A key factor was to make the two-storey home wheelchair accessible and form the basis of continued rehabilitation and maintenance of present bodily strength and function. 

The client had requirements for a significantly larger specialist bedroom (18m²), specialist bathroom (12m²), therapy room, aquatic therapy space, and bedrooms for family members and seperate carers. A key factor in providing accommodation for JR is that he was able to increase his independence using smart technology through a smart tablet, so specialist design was required to provide controls for automated vehicle gates, automated external and internal doors, automated opening windows, curtains, blinds, heating controls, air conditioning units and lighting systems. Understanding JR's basic accommodation needs, along with the equipment he had and the social requirements he enjoyed – all formed a basis to consider and include within the design of his adapted accommodation.

The first floor of the extension that had been previously built, housing the garage and the pool space, was 300mm lower than the floor level of the original house providing bedroom accommodation. Connecting these two spaces required a ramp. With the design of the new entrance extension, a curved, ramped pedestrian bridge connecting the two first floor spaces was designed and installed. The fall of the bridge is such that it is not noticeable that there is a fall across the space. It forms a fantastic feature for the homeowners, and connected the first floors together, highlighting the staircase within along with the central, through floor lift location.

The property's original pool was upgraded to a hydrotherapy pool, which provides pool temperatures of 35+ degrees. The existing property posed technical issues. Careful consideration was given to the technical design which needed to accommodate the increased size of plant services to both the property and the original pool space. This meant larger ducts and ventilation systems, all of which required structural alterations to existing roof components within the original roof structure, and in some cases replacements of oversized steel beams to substitute for smaller structures. This hurdle was overcome by working closely with the structural design team, the pool designers and installers and assisting them in whatever way possible to meet their requirements without impacting on other trade teams, or importantly, compromise on JR's requirements.

Another complexity was collaborating with the Control 4 specialist, to provide automation to doors, windows, curtains, blinds, heating, cooling and lighting controls. The amount of plant room space, cable ducts and service voids required to facilitate this need was of epic proportions. It required strong communication requirements between various trades onsite, largely led by the design team to keep the project on track. Finally, a further feature collaboration complexity was the design and installation of specialist equipment, including the design around the internal lift shaft; structural and technical implications of ceiling track hoists; along with technical design around height adjustable baths, sinks, kitchen worktops and wash dry toilets.


Judges' comments

A thoughtfully designed extension and renovation of an existing home to provide inclusive living accommodation in Sheffield. Carefully matching the specific client requirements, the new extension is in harmony with the original character of the host structure.

There was careful consideration of the existing structure and integration of the technical design throughout the whole process that is reflected in the final design and use. The reconfiguration includes a curved floating ramp but the home is not dominated by the accessible features. Fine sympathetic restoration of original design features.