Whitchurch Working Retreat

Whitchurch Working Retreat is a privately funded and community occupied space for calm and wellbeing, embodying the spirit of kindness and care for mental health that Whitchurch Hospital showed before it.

My research into archiving lead to a methodology centred around identifying the original purpose and true sentiment of a place and preserving these ethereal qualities in a tangible way.

Exterior render of the accommodation clusters. Three small red brick houses with reclaimed slate roofs are seen arranged around a shallow pool of water. Brick walls form perimeters that break up the space, frame views and provide privacy.
An accommodation cluster within the retreat

Whitchurch working retreat is a place that looks back at a history of medical care from the community, and ‘gives back’ to the same people that supported the old asylum for so many years. It works as a semi-private retreat over summer months, and a community space over the course of the year. It provides the opportunity for people to grow their own food, with excess going to an on-site community food bank, as well as providing facilities ranging from a swimming pool, to yoga and dance studios, to a restaurant, to meeting rooms, to simple open spaces and sports pitches, which can be used by locals all year round.

Interior render of the entrance, showing a long red brick space interspersed with large vertical panels of glazing. Water flows underneath the wall and is covered by glass flooring over a rectangular area on the right. On the left are benches and trees in pots, and the ceiling is formed of exposed rafters.
The entrance to the site, blurring boundaries between inside and out

Also caring for local wildlife, many areas are re-wilded, and the landmark water-tower is replaced by an ‘open aviary’ of equal stature.

Exterior render of the boilerhouse, with its tall timber frame tower reaching into the sky. The tower heavily planted, with vines climbing over the structure. Timber walkways suspended over shallow pools connect the buildings, and people visiting the food store can be seen enjoying a peaceful and mindful walk over the water.
The Boilerhouse, comprising of a food bank, a restaurant and an open aviary

Using materials reclaimed from the old building, and echoing the existing language and layout of the hospital, the retreat ‘remembers’ its former self whilst not being subservient to a derelict and imposing structure.

Portfolio Excerpts
Contact Details
Rose Hanmer
Email: HungertonRose@gmail.com
Instagram: rosehanmer_design