Keppie completes first purpose built sexual assault centre in UK

Keppie completes first purpose built sexual assault centre in UK

Leading architectural practice Keppie Design has completed and handed over sexual assault referral centre, The Rowan, at Antrim Area Hospital in Antrim, Northern Ireland on behalf of Northern Social Care Trust.

Keppie, in collaboration with Gareth Hoskins Architects, was commissioned to design the £1.15m centre, extending to 655 sq m, to provide a holistic and co-ordinated experience for victims. The purpose is to deliver a ‘one-stop’ location for health and support services in the immediate aftermath of sexual assault, rape or abuse, and facilities for examination.

Tim McKee from Keppie’s Belfast office, which provided both architecture and interior design services, commented on the sensitive and innovative project, “As this is the first purpose-built dedicated sexual assault centre in the UK, the brief was continually tested and reassessed.

An open ear to the numerous stakeholders on the client side resulted in an efficient, fit for purpose building. The design embraces the natural attributes of the site with mature trees embracing the building to create a natural, supportive environment for the service users.

“The layout of the building has been driven directly by the requirement to provide two distinct services; one for victims attending for the first time, often immediately after an assault, the other for subsequent visits. The ambition of this project is to create a safe, secure and private environment which respects the experience of the victim.” 

Karen Douglas, from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust/The Rowan, said, “The architectural design team has listened to the voices of victims and understood fully the multifaceted requirements in delivering a range of support services to those affected by sexual violence.

“The Rowan has been designed to create a comfortable, calm, safe haven to those in need of this specialist service. The structure of the building and the materials chosen, making optimum use of natural resources, exudes warmth, light, and a sense of space. The integrity of the build is there for all to see.”

The Rowan is a joint initiative between the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Police Service of Northern Ireland.  It will serve the whole of Northern Ireland, providing 24 hour care and support, 365 days a year.

Ben Crowther
Ben Crowther