Chad Gordon Autism Campus Retrofit Completes

Pedder & Scampton were commissioned by LB Haringey in 2019 to transform two dilapidated former community buildings on a shared site into a new campus for local residents with autism and complex learning disabilities and a support hub for Haringey residents with Aspergers (the first of its kind in Haringey). The design of the campus was a collaborative effort which included input from experts, carers, and the lived experience of service users’ families, combined with Pedder & Scampton’s specialist design knowledge for this user group.

Our design has created a landmark for the community, retrofitting and re using existing buildings on a tight budget to make two new facilities with a variety of welcoming and accessible spaces for group activities, clear logical layouts, rooms for retreat and a training kitchen which will provide life skills training opportunities for the user group. Finishes, fittings and detail design are specifically tailored to the particular sensory issues of the users.

The main entrance to the campus incorporates graphics inspired by local artist Lucy Brennan who attends ‘Artbox London’, a social enterprise that empowers local artists with learning difficulties. The shared gardens will be upgraded over time as projects for the building users.

The campus is named in memory of local Haringey resident Chad Gordon who was tragically killed in May 2020 and a commemorative tree planting ceremony with a memorial plaque marked the official opening of the campus as featured on ITV news in June.

The brief required a design that was inclusive, had a distinctive non institutional character with both quiet and lively bright colour schemes, and that connected the two separate buildings on the site to form a united campus. During the design process Pedder & Scampton had detailed consultation meetings with service users’ families and the service provision team to understand their aspirations and needs for the new spaces.

A range of room sizes and types were requested that could be adjusted by the staff to create differing ‘moods’ to suit users’ sensory needs on any given day. The layouts also needed to be logical and clear with the appropriate ‘pause’ and retreat locations typically needed by this the user group.

The limited budget needed to cover building repairs, service installation upgrades to current standards and appropriate safety and safeguarding, as well as meeting the client’s design and briefing aspirations. Pedder & Scampton applied their expertise in de- signing for disabilities and autism to detail and specify to meet common issues that arise such as lighting and sunlight glare control, acoustics, low VOC materials, using natural materials, good daylighting, and particularly robust construction.

The project brought two neglected buildings that had been out of community use for a number of years back to life for a group of Haringey residents much in need of support given recent Covid 19 lockdowns, low support funding and stretched local resources. Reusing and remodelling existing structures is a sustainable approach and meant that the project could be delivered in the relative- ly short construction period of 7 months.

Service manager – Community Provisions and Day Opportunities commented:

“The Chad Gordon Autism Campus is a bespoke space for adults with complex Autism and learning disabilities and for adults with Autism pre and post diagnosis in a space which celebrates neurodiversity. Pedder & Scampton have been key to delivering a one of a kind service on a budget in a complicated covid world. The consultation included liaising with families and service users who would use the service, various professionals from health and social care, Helen was keen to co-produce and was infinitely patient going through design idea’s, sharing information about impactful autism friendly design and answering lots of questions from concerned carers. In the details of design we had many meetings with Pedder & Scampton to go through everything from wall colour, ironmongery to floor texture, they were able to supply great swatches and examples, and was able to demonstrate the overall feel through great images, design boards and texture trails. We were able to discuss pros and cons of options and were guided to an amazing finish and the resultant autism friendly campus is a champion of this process. Without Helen on site we would not have got the finishing in the way we envisioned, she has been absolutely imperative to the final vision being delivered and hasn’t steered away from challenging our building partners and suppliers when we have needed things doing in a certain way. The end result of all of this steering, design and leadership is an amazing campus which is welcoming to our neurodiverse residents and empowering to everyone supported. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.”

Project facts:
Client: London Borough of Haringey & North Central London CCG, Adult Learning Disability and Autism
Project address: Chad Gordon Autism Campus, Waltheof Gardens, London N17 7DN
Architect: Pedder & Scampton Architects
Structural Engineer: Parmabrook Urban
MEP early stage design: Clarke Services Group
Quantity Surveyor: Moulton Taggart
Contractor: Sol Services Ltd
Photographer: Adelina Iliev
NIA gross (2 buildings): 575 m²
Commissioned: August 2019
Construction completed: May 2021