The Hawkhead Centre is the new centre for the Scottish War Blinded charity that provides free support to former service men and women who have lost their sight during or after military service. The centre offers a wide range of facilities, including a sports hall, a gym, an art room, a carpentry workshop and a large dining area which is the heart of the building.
The project was inspired by the toponym ‘Hawkhead’, the area of Paisley where the centre is located. Page\ Park Architects have thus envisaged the roof of the centre as a sweeping wing that shelters all of the assets beneath. The roof, covered in timber, incorporates five large triangular skylights that provide light to the central dining room and meeting area. Every key point in the building has a visual connection with this large roof and with the meeting area, helping to create a sense of community and of belonging to a larger whole. From an architectural point of view, the main goal was to create a family environment, goal combined with the practical need to use materials that would help visually impaired guests be as independent as possible. Natural materials with strong tactile characteristics were chosen, such as hardwoods, rather than plastic materials, and surfaces with high levels of visual contrast. For example, the doors on the ground floor are in light maple whereas their frames are made of dark walnut to mark a clear outline around the opening. During the day, light comes mainly from above and fills the space in an even and homogeneous way, emphasizing the naturalness of the materials chosen. At night, this effect is reproduced by recessed Pixel Pro and Reflex luminaires. The light continues to come from above, and is of a warm and comfortable 3000 K colour temperature. Pixel Pro luminaires were chosen for the wooden ceiling of the wing, while the Reflex luminaires were installed in certain lower-ceiling areas, such as the lifts landing and the reception area. These areas were illuminated using Reflex luminaires with a UGR<19, to reduce any possibility of glare. The building was deliberately designed to have a strong connection with the outdoors, through a new sensory garden, the pergola, the roof and the greenhouse which blend in with the surrounding forest featuring oak, larch, pine and maple trees. Outside, iWay bollards illuminate the park alleyways particularly popular with guests.
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