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Every three minutes someone develops dementia and there’s currently no cure. Our office fit out is helping the Alzheimer’s Society in Birmingham tackle one of the UK’s biggest killers.

Making connections

Alzheimer’s Society is the only UK charity that campaigns for change, funds research and supports people living with dementia today. We were tasked with designing and building an all-new facility to house its community-focused service, Dementia Connect, at Tricorn House in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

There are 70,000 people living with dementia in the West Midlands alone and this newly-launched service provides a first point of contact for them and their loved ones.

United against dementia

Dementia is a subject close to our hearts and many of our team have become Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends as a result of working on this project. We threw ourselves into the charity’s research to try understand how we could make the space as inclusive as possible.

We considered how interior design and fit out can support neurodiversity, meet the needs of those living with dementia, and reflect the current thinking of leading researchers. We even consulted with academics from the University of Stirling in special focus groups to get feedback on what would work and what wouldn’t.

Consistency, comfort and wellness were the pillars of our brief. We wanted to create a safe space which is inviting, inspiring and accessible. Alzheimer’s Society also asked us to transform its office into a space that would attract and retain the very best West Midlands talent. The space not only shows the charity’s commitment to uniting against dementia, it prioritises employee wellbeing.

Inspired design

To support neurodiversity in the space, our design utilises colours chosen specifically for people affected by dementia, comfortable and accessible furniture, dementia-friendly patterns on all carpets and fabrics, and focal points within the space to help with wayfinding and navigation.

Natural elements

One of the central pillars of the office design is biophilia, with timber and natural hues used throughout. The natural wood is complemented with greens from plants and augmented with a splash of blue and pink; reminiscent of the daytime and dusk skies.

We also added communal break out and refreshment areas, carefully designed and furnished to be comfortable and homely. In these areas we installed warm lights to give a domestic ambiance, alongside soft seating, decorative overhead joinery and leafy plants. The combination of timber, greenery and warming grey tones create a feeling of warmth that reflects a domestic atmosphere.

Wellbeing and mental health

We took a people-centric approach to refurbishing the Alzheimer Society’s new office. This means we thought about what would make the space an inspiring, happy and healthy place to work.

Guidelines from the WELL Building Institute outline the importance of natural light, fresh air, movement, good nutrition and thermal comfort in supporting holistic occupant wellness. We did everything possible to try and meet as many of their principles as possible.

We tackled the problematic mechanical infrastructure, lack of fresh air and outdated ventilation system by working with the landlord to find a solution. Our open plan layout maximises natural daylight across the entire floorplate, and by introducing varied working zones we’ve encouraged staff to move around during the day. The well-appointed kitchen is also perfectly equipped for preparing healthy lunches and snacks with plenty of storage, counter space and appliances.

It’s great that Overbury’s design of the new dementia-friendly Alzheimer’s Society office in Birmingham is influenced by people living with dementia. Our new office will allow us to be the first point of contact for people affected by dementia and their loved ones.
Nick Elliot, Head of Property & Facilities, Alzheimer’s Society

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