When architects are approached by farmers with redundant stone-built farm steadings, it is usually assumed that the best way forward is to apply for planning permission to convert the buildings into houses. So Chalmers & Co Architects team found it refreshing to meet a client looking for an alternative approach.
Prora Farm, near Drem in East Lothian, has a lovely, late 19th century sandstone farmhouse and steading. The farm is still actively worked by Hamish Miller and his son Graham. The steading is unusually close to the farmhouse where Hamish lives, converting the steading into houses was, therefore, not considered as attractive as business use.
An initial plan was drawn up to convert the agricultural buildings into office and storage properties ranging from 48 to 152 square metres to rent out to small businesses. With the help of Chalmers & Co’s Architectural team and Oliver Joinery Ltd, the steadings were repaired and re-roofed. Drainage, water and power were all provided. An opportunity then presented itself.
Hamish Miller was approached to ask if one of the units could be converted into high quality offices for rent. He jumped at the chance to secure a long term tenant and invested in upgrading the units with insulation, heating, lighting and toilets to meet current building standards. As soon as Marine Procurement moved in, they needed to expand and so two more units were converted and occupied.
This left 3 larger unconverted business units which were still looking for a tenant. It did not take long before a local doctor, Dr Rob Lawson, approached him with an ambitious plan to create a Lifestyle Medicine Centre. From its lovely setting in East Lothian countryside, ‘Core Health’, as it is called, offers a wide range of professional health services designed to protect peoples’ health by encouraging lifestyles that reduce the risk of illness and disease.
“Converting a traditional steading into a modern medical facility introduced a few interesting design challenges,” said David Brackenridge, chartered architect at Chalmers & Co. “The reception, shop and café are double height. We catered for disabled access with a ramp and platform lift for wheel chairs, and have managed to retain many of the old features, like the gate posts from the old cattle courts.”
Visitors to the Life Style Medicine centre can relax, attend Pilates classes, see a nutritionist or physiotherapist, or participate in the unique Health and Wellbeing Programmes (HELP). They can also take advantage of the healthy eating café with outdoor seating areas, and buy health foods and remedies from the specialist shop.
Dr Rob Lawson says: “We’d rather help people live without a condition than have to manage an illness. We take a close look at every facet of our patients’ physical and mental health to develop a tailored approach by looking at the three fundamentals of health: nutrition, activity and clinical care. With the expert practical advice our team can offer, we can help people live longer, fuller and happier lives.”
David Brackenridge, chartered architect at Chalmers & Co, worked closely with both Hamish and Rob to develop the plans and designs to convert the redundant buildings into reception area, consulting rooms, therapy studio, retail space and café. Planning permission was granted and building warrant and advertising consent obtained by the architects before Oliver Joinery Ltd undertook the construction work. Core Health’s ‘Equilibrium’ centre was opened in mid-May.
Why not drop in to see the Lothian’s first Life Style Medicine Centre at Prora near Drem (EH39 5LN)? See www.core-health.com